Dogs are the most popular domesticated animal in the United States, residing in 44% of all households across the country, according to the ASPCA.
While dogs are great companions and a good addition to most families, they also come with a set of health risks. One of the biggest risks of owning a dog, especially with children, is a dog bite. Given the right circumstances, even the best behaved dog is capable of biting someone.
Dog Bite Injuries Don’t Always Show Right Away
While some injuries are obvious immediately following the bite, there are other injuries that may not show right away, such as an infection. According to the Center for Disease Control, infections occur in 20% of all dog bites and are typically discovered when a lump forms under the skin.
Infections from dog bites are not only dangerous because of the bacteria they contain, but because sometimes they can take days or weeks to show up. In this time the bacteria could be working its way through your body, potentially causing serious damage.
The very best way to prevent a lump from forming under your skin after a dog bite is to immediately see a doctor after the event occurs. This way a doctor can prescribe you antibiotics before the symptoms of an infection ever start showing, helping you to avoid the infection all-together. Often times when people get bit by a dog it doesn’t seem too serious, so they either just leave the wound or take minimum care, such as just rinsing it out. While there are things you can put on a dog bite, simply rinsing out a wound does not remove all the bacteria. The only 100% way to remove an infection or fight an infection before it occurs, is through antibiotics.
What to Do If a Lump Forms
If a lump forms in the area where the dog bite occurred, above all you should seek medical attention. This is also the case if the area of the dog bite still hurts after it has healed. However, seeing a doctor is not always convenient, so people may wait to see if the issue will resolve itself. While it is not recommended, if you want to wait to see if the infection gets worse, you should do the following two things:
- Measure the lump on a daily basis.
- Take pictures of the lump on a daily basis.
If you notice any difference- the lump growing or changing colors –while recording this information, you should immediately see a doctor. Make sure that your doctor receives this information during your visit, it can help immensely when determining the best treatment to fight the infection.
Treating a Dog Bite Can Be Expensive
Besides being dangerous, the costs associated with being the victim of a dog bite add up quickly. There are two type of expenses that are associated with dog bites:
- Tangible (hospital visits, surgeries, medicine, missed time at work)
- Intangible (pain and suffering, psychological trauma)
If you were bit by your own dog, it will most likely come down to your health and homeowner insurance providers to help cover some of your medical expenses. If you were bit by someone else’s dog, you should not be held responsible for any of the costs associated with the bite. At a minimum it should be the dog owner’s responsibility to cover your medical expenses.
If the owner refuses to pay for expenses incurred because of the dog bite, contact a personal injury attorney. A dog owner is responsible for all actions that their dog takes, including when their dog bites someone else. The only time when a dog owner is not responsible for paying for the treatment of a dog bite is when the dog is provoked to bite or acting in self-defense.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2011 the average dog bite insurance claim payout was $29, 396. If the amount your insurance company is providing you with is significantly lower than this number, you should contact a personal injury attorney. While insurance companies advertise that they are “on your side”, the reality is the complete opposite.
Insurance companies are notorious for giving out the smallest amount of money possible, often times undercutting the money their customers should receive by tens of thousands of dollars. They do this because they know most people do not have an in-depth understanding of their insurance policies, leaving them vulnerable to be taken advantage of.
Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.