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Dog bites are a traumatic event for people of all ages. The effects often last for months, if not years, after the incident. In response, the victim may have to live with or schedule medical treatment to diminish severe scarring, receive physical rehabilitation for injuries, manage emotional distress and avoid dogs or public places altogether.

Although these scenarios may seem extreme at a glance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 27,000 people bitten by a dog require reconstructive surgery each year. The CDC data also shows that roughly 885,000 people bitten by dogs each year need medical attention.

Depending upon the severity of the injury, a dog bite may lead to:

Long-Term Physical Complications

Child petting a dog as he eatsAfter the incident, you receive medical treatment right away. Yet, you experience an infection at the site months later. How did this happen? Unfortunately, bacteria from dog’s teeth can get caught in the wound and its effects might go unnoticed until it develops into rabies – which must be treated immediately – or becomes a chronic infection that requires multiple rounds of antibiotics.

Further, the wound and stitches often serve as a reminder of the incident and may require ongoing treatment. Patients may experience constant itching at the site that never completely goes away or could have permanent pain as a result of nerve damage, leading to long-term prescriptions.

Also a result of nerve damage, the patient may not regain complete use of the limb, possibly experiencing partial or full paralysis or mobility issues. In this case, a doctor may recommend physical therapy to help the victim regain use of a damaged arm, hand or leg.

Scarring

However, even if the wound itself doesn’t require further medical treatment, the resulting scar becomes a daily reminder of the attack. Depending upon the severity of the bite, a victim may have permanent scars, need to have a limb amputated or may be disfigured.

In many cases, reconstructive surgery improves the area’s appearance. But, according to medical professionals, a bite victim needs anywhere from two to five surgical procedures to correct the scar or disfigurement and, in certain instances, the mark might not disappear fully.

Emotional Concerns

While a victim may receive physical therapy treatment and see scarring diminish with time, emotional trauma remains, particularly for children who were bitten. Studies have shown that, while both adults and children may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a bite, younger victims experience it on a more severe level.

After the attack, many children develop an attachment disorder when separated from their parents. Older children may also show signs of extreme social withdrawal, disruptive or inattentive behaviors. Within this age group, regressive behaviors, sleep disturbances, irrational fears and sudden anger may manifest. It’s also fairly common for children to experience flashbacks regarding the incident.

While adults may allegedly cope better, their trauma can emerge in other ways. For instance, scarring or disfigurement may transform an individual’s social life; he or she may no longer be outgoing, find their friends become distant or struggle to hold down a job. Adults may also develop an extreme or morbid fear of dogs, avoiding the animals completely or refusing to go outdoors following the attack.

After you or your loved one gets bit, it’s imperative to pursue a claim against the dog’s owner. You may be faced with expensive medical bills, have to take time off work or may find your life changed completely. An owner who doesn’t properly train or manage his or her dog must be held accountable.

If you’ve been living in the aftermath of a dog bite and believe you have a claim, turn to Trantolo & Trantolo’s lawyers. For more information, reach out to our team today.