Dog Bite Lawyer Explains Warning Signs
Most dogs are man’s best friend—but not all of them.
In fact, the CDC reports that dogs bite 4.5 million people each year. Of those bitten, more than 800,000 have to seek medical attention. Dog bites can be serious, or even fatal—resulting in jagged wounds and severe infections. What’s worse, about half of those bitten by dogs are children.
The dog bite lawyers at Casper & Casper have seen up close how a vicious dog can cause tremendous harm. That’s why we want to give you the warning signs to help avoid this tragedy. But if it can’t be avoided, we also want you to know your legal options after a dog bite.
Keep reading to learn what you need to know to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Why a Dog Bites
To start, it’s important to remember that any dog can bite.
While dogs like Pit Bulls, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, and other “bully breeds” have a bad reputation for aggression, dogs of all shapes and sizes can bite.
Dogs bite for a variety of reasons:
- To defend their territory
- To protect something they value (like food or a toy)
- Because they are scared or startled
- Because they are sick or hurt and want to be left alone
- Because they get overly excited during play (like nipping during tug-of-war)
When it comes to dog bites, you need to know the warning signs. Except in rare cases, most dogs bite as a last resort. Before the bite come certain warning signs that let you know not to approach the dog. If you and your children know these signs, you can avoid catastrophe.
Dog Bite Warning Signs
There are a few “red flags” of a potential dog bite. If you see this body language on a dog, it’s time to get away from the dog:
- Making a guttural bark that sounds threatening
- Showing teeth
- Snarling (this is growling plus showing teeth)
- Becoming stiff or rigid
- Staring intently
- Raising hackles (when the hair on the dog’s back stands up)
- Keeping ears back and close to the head
- Lunging forward
What we listed above are signs of fear, distress, or aggression. When a dog experiences these emotions, it’s possible they’ll bite.
How to Avoid a Dog Bite
The good news is that you can often avoid a dog bite by taking a few steps. In addition to keeping a lookout for dog bite warning signs, we recommend taking care in risky situations with dogs—especially dogs you don’t know. What are those risky situations?
- The dog is by itself, and not with its owner
- The owner tells you not to pet the dog
- The dog is on the other side of a fence
- The dog is sleeping or eating
- The dog is sick or hurt
- A mother dog is resting with her puppies or seems very protective of them
- The dog is playing with a toy
- The dog is barking or growling
- The dog seems to be hiding or seems to want to be alone
Be careful: in these situations, a bite can happen. It’s not a good idea to interact with the dog, like trying to approach or pet it.
If an aggressive dog approaches, calmly walk away. Don’t yell, run, or make sudden movements toward the dog. And if the dog is still following, make a defense “tree position” (standing, with the head down and hands down in front of you). Finally, if a dog knocks you down, cover your head and neck.
Also, it is vital that you teach this information to smaller family members.
It’s important that kids know not to approach stray dogs, and that they should always ask an owner’s permission before petting a dog. Kids should also not be allowed to tease a dog—like by pulling its tail or ears, trying to ride the dog, stealing its food or toys, or pretending to hit it (or actually hitting it). Kids—especially babies, toddlers, and very young children—shouldn’t be left alone with a dog. Of course, dogs can be a loving and wonderful addition to the family—but it’s important to take care that kids don’t accidentally push a dog too far.
What Your Legal Options Are after a Dog Bite
Unfortunately, not all dog bites can be prevented. Sometimes, a neighbor’s dog bites with little warning. Other times, an unleashed dog or a stray attacks at a dog park.
After a dog bite, you likely want to know what your options are.
In Ohio, the law takes dangerous dogs very seriously. Under the Ohio Revised Code, “The owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog.” (Keeper refers to a person who was in control of the dog, like a dog-walker, at the time of the bite. Harborer refers to a person who controls where the dog lives.)
Ohio is also a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. That means that you do not have to prove that the owner of the dog was negligent in order to hold them legally and financially responsible.
If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, know that you can hold the dog owner responsible. You may report the dog to animal control or the public health department, so the dog won’t attack anyone else in the future. You may also make a personal injury claim for all of the costs and injuries caused by the dog bite. This includes any medical expenses, lost wages from taking time off work, future medical costs or lost earnings, psychological counseling, and pain and suffering.
Talk to an Experienced Dog Bite Lawyer
If you a considering a personal injury claim after a dog bite, Casper & Casper is here to help. We understand how devastating a dog bite can be and know that you deserve compensation for your ordeal.
To talk to an experienced dog bite lawyer about your case, contact us today.