If you’re reading this article, chances are either you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog that belongs to someone else. Dog bite injuries can be very traumatic and have lasting physical and emotional consequences. It’s not uncommon for dog bite injury victims to suffer from wound infections and psychological effects, including anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that impact a victim’s daily life. Young children are especially at risk for dog bites because they move in erratic and unpredictable ways and stand at the same height as fearful, aggressive, or territorial animals.

Here we address some common questions about dog bite injuries, including actions to take if you are bitten and the legal recourse for dog bite injuries.

How do you treat a dog bite wound on a person?

Any dog bite that punctures the skin carries the risk of causing infection. Even a minor bite can result in severe complications that require hospitalization and IV treatment. Follow these steps to care for a dog bite wound:

  1. Clean the wound with mild soap and rinse it thoroughly with warm water for 10 minutes.
  2. Dry it with a clean cloth and apply mild pressure as needed to slow any bleeding.
  3. Apply other-the-counter antibiotic cream if available.
  4. Seek medical treatment within hours as your doctor may want to prescribe antibiotics or administer a tetanus booster shot. If the attack caused severe     injuries, call 9-1-1 or head to the ER immediately.
  5. Watch for any signs of infection, including redness, swelling, increased pain, or fever and call your doctor right away if these symptoms appear.

What things should I do after being bitten by a dog?

Besides getting proper medical treatment, there are several things you should do to protect your legal rights and prevent others from getting injured by the same animal:

  1. Identify the dog, its owner, and the owner’s address.
  2. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  3. Demand proof of the dog’s vaccinations, especially its current rabies immunization status.
  4. Report the animal bite. Ohio law requires that “anyone who has knowledge” of a person being bitten by an animal may file an incident report with their local health district where the incident occurred. You may also call your local animal control or police department to report the incident.
  5. Take photos of your injuries.
  6. If an insurance claim has been filed, get the name of the insurance company, the insurance phone number, and the claim number.
  7. Do NOT discuss the situation other than vaccination status with the dog owner, admit responsibility, exchange money, or write any letters or other correspondence to them.
  8. Contact a personal injury lawyer who specializes in dog bite cases.

Does a person’s homeowner’s insurance cover a dog bite?

In most cases, dog-related injuries are covered by the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance. However, there are monetary liability limits, and some dog breeds that are considered statistically aggressive may be specifically excluded from a policy’s coverage. However, even if the liable party does not have insurance, an experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover compensation through a settlement, lawsuit, or restitution.  

Can I sue for a dog bite?

Yes. In Ohio, it is possible to sue for injuries caused by a dog bite under the legal concepts of “strict liability” and “common negligence.”  Ohio dog bite laws make it very clear that dog owners are strictly liable for a bite caused by their animal. This means that the dog owner is generally deemed liable for a victim’s injuries, even if the animal showed no signs of aggression in the past. Under this theory of liability, the victim does not need to prove negligence by the dog’s owner. Alternatively, recovering compensation under a common negligence theory requires meeting a higher burden of proof by establishing that a dog owner breached a reasonable duty of care and that this breach directly and proximately caused the victim’s injuries. Proving a case under common negligence grounds may open up opportunities for additional compensation. Scheduling a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether your case is worth pursuing.

How much can you sue someone for a dog bite?

Since injuries from dog bites can range from slight skin punctures to a major mauling and maiming, settlements and jury verdicts will vary significantly depending on the severity of damages. The average dog bite settlement in Ohio is around $40,000. The precise value of a dog bite claim will depend on several things including the nature and extent of the injury, degree of permanent damage or disability, evidence strength, age of the victim, victim’s relationship to the defendant and other factors. An experienced personal injury lawyer can only provide an estimate of a claim’s value after carefully reviewing all of the specific facts of that claim.

What is the statute of limitations for a dog bite injury in Ohio?

It is important to work quickly with any personal injury matter to increase your chance of a successful result. If you suffer from a dog bite or other dog-related injury in Ohio, you have six years from the time of the incident to file a lawsuit under a theory of strict liability. If you were a minor at the time of the incident, you have six years after your 18th birthday to file a lawsuit under a strict liability theory. Under a common negligence theory, you have two years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit. Again, if you were a minor at the time of the attack, you have two years from your 18th birthday to file a lawsuit under a common negligence theory. Due to the multiple deadlines involved in a dog bite claim, it is important that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney quickly to ensure your legal rights are preserved.

What kind of lawyer do I need for a dog bite case?

Dog bite claims can be complex and the legal concepts involved have many nuances to consider. If a minor child was a victim of a dog bite, a settlement may require Probate Court approval.  Probate Court approval is essentially a process whereby a probate judge approves an application to settle a minors claim because a minor child does not have the capacity to sign a release of claims. Because of all these factors, you will want to make sure the personal injury lawyer you choose to represent you specializes in dog bite injury practice. At Joseph Law Group, we have been providing dog bite injury legal services to our clients for nearly two decades. We know how to efficiently gather evidence to support a claim and are experienced in dealing with insurance companies to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation possible.

At Joseph Law Group, we employ a systematic approach to gathering evidence and proving liability in the dog bite cases we handle. We understand how difficult the physical and mental recovery process can be for dog bite victims. With our contingency fee structure, we remove the burden of out-of-pocket legal costs and only charge a fee if we successfully recover compensation for you. Call us at (216) 912-7402 to schedule a free initial consultation with a compassionate, experienced personal injury lawyer specializing in dog bite cases.