As warmer weather approaches, more people and animals are outside, which makes dogs bite injuries more likely to occur than any other time of year. Nearly 2 percent of the American population, or 4.7 million people, are bitten by a dog in the United States each year.
The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that one-third of all homeowner's liability insurance claims each year are related to dog bites and more than 27,000 people undergo reconstructive surgery to repair a dog bite injury each year. According to the Connecticut Humane Society, children and seniors are the most common dog bite victims in the State.
You can reduce your risk of a dog bite injury, and teach your children to do the same, by following these tips:
- Never approach or touch a dog without permission from the dog's owner.
- If given permission to touch a dog, first let it sniff your closed hand BEFORE petting it on the shoulder or chest. Do not pet a strange dog on the head.
- Never approach or touch a dog that is sleeping, eating, playing with toys or caring for puppies.
- Avoid staring into a strange dog's eyes.
- If approached by a strange dog, DO NOT RUN OR SCREAM. Stand still until the dog loses interest and then slowly back away.
- If a dog tries to bite you, "feed it" anything you have for it to grab with its mouth - it is better for the dog to bite your jacket, backpack, purse, bicycle or anything else besides you.
If you or your loved one are attacked or bitten by a dog, there are important steps to take:
- IMMEDIATELY get the dog owner's name, address, phone number and proof of dog's rabies vaccination.
- Clean the wound with soap and water as soon as possible.
- Consult your doctor immediately or go to the Emergency Room if your doctor's office is closed (dog bite wounds can become easily infected if not treated properly).
- Report the bite to local Animal Control immediately - Connecticut law requires a dog that bites someone to be quarantined for 14 days.
Under Connecticut law, a dog owner must keep his or her dog under control while on another's property or public area, and the dog's owner is responsible for any damages his or her dog causes, unless the victim was trespassing, committing a crime or teasing/tormenting the dog. The law presumes that children under 7 years of age were not doing any of these things.
In Connecticut, a landlord may also be held responsible for the tenant's dog, if the landlord knew about the dog's presence on the property and that it was dangerous or aggressive before the dog bit the victim.
Do not worry if the dog's owner is a friend or family member. Insurance companies are responsible for paying dog bite claims. This means that you or your loved one can get the compensation you deserve without making enemies with the dog's owner.
It is important to consult an experienced attorney, like the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli, to understand your rights if you or a loved one is bitten by a dog. Contact us today at 1-800-WIN-WIN1 for your free consultation.