Out of the 4.5 million Americans who experience dog bites per year, 885,000 require a serious degree of medical attention for their injuries. Such procedures entail anything from sterilizing a wound, shots and stitches to correcting tissue damage and disfigurement with repeat surgeries.
For the victim, the injury is only part of the battle in the aftermath. Recovery frequently involves addressing trauma related to the incident: Did the incident happen suddenly and out of your control?
Due to these factors, recovering after a dog attack often turns into a lengthy process of managing both physical and emotional symptoms.
Dog bites vary in severity and depth; so do the injuries and care needed. After an attack happens, the victim must go to the hospital and treatment for extreme injuries may last weeks. While medical professionals may recommend multiple surgeries, these procedures are only the tip of the iceberg:
- To help the patient through the hospital stay, medical professionals often give dog bite victims medications for pain relief. After the patient returns home, these drugs may start to wear off and the victim feels the true extent of the damage that occurred. Wounds may feel deep within the skin and muscle tissue or seem permanently raw. Victims with such injuries also report deep and pervasive itching, which never quite goes away.
- Nerve damage nearly always occurs with these severe physical injuries. Some victims report a sense of numbness or permanent pain or find their senses altered.
- Patient injuries may result in a limb’s full or partial loss of use.
- In more long-term cases, multiple corrective or reconstructive procedures may be needed to improve the damage the bite caused, including using existing tissue to rebuild body parts. According to the CDC, about 27,000 dog bite victims require such procedures. Based on data from plastic surgeons, repairing facial wounds alone typically involves two to five surgeries.
- Along with multiple surgeries, victims often need to go through years of physical therapy. Combined, these medical costs quickly turn into a significant financial burden that can become insurmountable to manage.
Mental Health and Trauma
Although victims are grateful they survived this ordeal, self-confidence can soon take a turn for the worse upon seeing the cosmetic damage and feeling pain in the aftermath.
However, such issues can worsen over time if not addressed. Victims may develop severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a life-long fear of dogs. This behavior manifests as:
- Refusal to leave the house because of emotional trauma.
- Avoiding all dogs in public or finding a way to create a barrier.
- Refusing to be near any dog, even if the animal is familiar or has never lashed out.
Preparing to File a Claim
As a victim, you have rights and the dog’s owner must be held responsible for the negligent behavior that caused your injuries. As you recover, you and your loved ones should:
- Identify the dog and its owner or caretaker, including any names and addresses.
- Put together a timeline, including the date and time the incident occurred. Also hold onto any clothing from the incident and gather witnesses’ statements.
- Keep a record of all medical treatments, from the ambulance ride and rabies shots through your surgeries and even all recommended therapies.
- If possible, photograph your injuries in a safe manner.
- File a dog bite report with your city’s or county’s authorities. Doing this starts creating a paper trail around your claim.
- Do some research. Try to find if this dog has ever attacked another person or animal.
As you start gathering this information, get a lawyer involved. Trantolo & Trantolo’s staff believes that responsible dog owners should properly train and manage their animals. Those who don’t must be held responsible. To learn more about what we can do or to start your claim, give us a call today.