What Should I Do If I Was Bitten by a Pit Bull?

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The pit bull is a dog breed that is commonly associated with serious and fatal bites and attacks.  While proponents and supporters of the breed insist that pit bulls, on the whole, are misunderstood and that many of the attacks in which pit bulls are involved are not the result of any vicious tendency inherent in the breed, the fact remains that pit bulls were responsible for a 69% of fatal dog bites and attacks in 2019. The pain and trauma caused by a pit bull bite or attack can easily cause the victim to panic and fail to take appropriate actions to protect their physical health and legal rights.  Knowing what to do following a pit bull attack can help increase the chances of you or your loved one making a full and complete recovery. If you were bitten by a pit bull, call the dog bite attorneys at Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation.

PIT BULLS ARE THE MOST DANGEROUS DOGS IN THE UNITED STATES

Pit bulls represent a uniquely dangerous breed of dog and pose a significant threat to those who encounter them if proper precautions are not taken by their owners. In a study conducted over 15 years, pit bulls were shown to have caused 346 deaths from 2005 to 2019, or 66.4% of all dog bite fatalities in the U.S. During this same period, the Rottweiler, and second-highest breed responsible for attacks, only caused 51 deaths, or 9.8% of the total. This large discrepancy demonstrates that pit bulls continue to be the breed most likely to kill you.  The next most dangerous breeds are Rottweilers and German Shepherds. Read More: Dog Bite Statistics

WHAT TO DO AFTER A PIT BULL BITE

1. Seek Medical Attention

If you have been bitten by a pit bull, you should immediately seek medical attention and wash the wound with soap and water.  Dog bites can cause serious infections and even life-threatening injuries if not treated quickly and properly.  A pit bull bite may also transmit rabies to the victim if the dog has not been vaccinated.  Your doctor will be able to provide the necessary treatment and document your injury, which your lawyer may later use to prove the extent of your injuries from the dog bite.

2. Contact Animal Control

After a pit bull attack, you should contact Animal Control and report the bite.  This provides official documentation of the bite and the details surrounding the attack.  The owner will be required to demonstrate that the dog has been vaccinated for rabies, and if unable to do so, the dog will be quarantined for ten days to determine if it has rabies.  If you cannot locate the owner, you may need to undergo a series of rabies shots. Read More: How to File a Dog Bite Report

3. Document Injuries and Details

It is important to document your injuries after a pit bull attack. Be sure to take photos of the bite and affected area, as soon as possible after the bite occurs and throughout the treatment and healing process. You should also gather as much evidence as possible about the events surrounding the incident, including photos of the area where it occurred. Some useful questions to ask yourself are:
  • What were you doing before the attack?
  • Did you see the pit bull approach you?
  • What did the dog look like?
  • How did the attack begin?
  • What did you do when the dog began attacking you?
  • How did the attack end?
  • Did you recognize the dog?
  • Did the owner of the dog speak with you after the attack?

4. Gather Witness Information

You should obtain the contact information of any witnesses who may have been present at the time the pit bull attacked you.  It is also critical to obtain the contact information and insurance information of the dog owner immediately after you are bitten.

5. Consult an Attorney

Consult an experienced dog bite attorney to help you seek fair compensation for your injuries.  An attorney will know the laws about dog bites, and may help prove that the dog owner is liable for your injuries.  You should only discuss the details of the incident with your attorney.  Do not discuss these details with the dog owner or their insurance company without consulting your attorney first, as this could damage your case. Read More: How to Calculate the Value of Your Claim

CAN I FILE A LAWSUIT?

Laws regarding dog bites vary by state, but generally, if you are the victim of a pit bull bite, you may file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. The specific circumstances surrounding your dog bite should be carefully documented, such as if the dog was properly enclosed or restrained, and whether any sign was posted warning of the dog’s presence such as a “Beware of Dog” sign.  These factors can be used to help determine if it is possible to file a claim for damages. It may be more difficult to succeed on a claim if you were bitten while trespassing on someone’s property or provoked the dog.  Other factors, such as local or state leash laws and dog bite laws, may also play a role in determining if you are able to file a claim successfully. Read More: Can I Recover Damages for My Child’s Dog Bite Injury?

COMMON INJURIES CAUSED BY PIT BULLS

1. Infections

Dog bites can cause a variety of infections, including:
  • Rabies: Rabies can be transmitted via the dog’s saliva and it is treated with a series of shots. If rabies goes undiagnosed or untreated, it can result in death, which is why it is important to seek medical attention immediately after a dog bite occurs.
  • Pasteurella: An infection frequently caused by dog-bites, it can cause swelling in glands and joints, which can impair movement abilities, as well as cause arthritis and abscesses.
  • Tetanus: A bacterial infection that can cause painful muscle spasms, and if left untreated, can lead to paralysis or death.
  • MRSA: Dog bites often result in staph infections, which can be life-threatening, especially once it spreads to the bloodstream and lungs.
  • Capnocytophaga: A dog’s saliva can transmit these bacteria, which can cause severe illness in humans, including a heart attack, kidney failure, or gangrene.  In severe cases of infection, people may die from sepsis or need to have limbs amputated.

2. Open Wounds

When a pit bull bites you, it often results in open wounds that can leave a victim vulnerable to infection. This often leads to extended hospital stays so that the wounds can be monitored. Open wounds may also leave permanent scarring or disfigurement after they have healed.

3. Broken Bones

On average, a pit bull’s jaw produces 235 pounds of pressure per square inch.  This amount of pressure, combined with a pit bull’s tendency to shake its head and hold onto its bite for a long period of time makes pit bills capable of crushing and breaking bones, especially in the legs, feet, or hands.

4. Internal Injuries

A dog bite can exert incredible force and is capable of crushing or damaging internal organs and muscles. Bites that occur in the arms or legs can cause serious and sometimes permanent muscle damage. Even if the wound appears to be small, there can still be underlying damage to nerves and blood vessels.

WHERE ARE PIT BULLS BANNED?

There is currently no state that completely bans pit bulls.  However, over 900 cities have enacted breed-specific laws that ban or restrict the ownership of pit bulls.  In many states and cities, pit bulls are legally considered to be dangerous dogs and these laws require that owners take proper precautions to prevent attacks. Read More: Breed-Specific Laws State-by-State

PROVING OWNER NEGLIGENCE

Proving whether an owner was negligent will depend on local and state laws. Many states have “strict liability” laws that hold dog owners responsible for dog bites, regardless of whether the dog owner knew their dog was likely to attack. Other states have a “one-bite rule,” which only makes the dog owner liable if they knew or should have known that their dog was dangerous. In a state with strict liability laws, the owner will usually be held responsible for the pit bull attack.  Even if the owner took preventative measures to reduce the risk of a pit bull bite, they may still be held accountable in a strict liability state. To prove that the pit bull owner is liable in a state with a one-bite rule, the defendant must be able to prove that the dog previously bit someone or previously acted in an aggressive manner and the owner knew about this behavior.  If a pit bull previously exhibited this behavior, it will help demonstrate that the dog had aggressive tendencies and the pit bull owner failed to take proper preventative steps. The specific details of your case are instrumental in proving whether or not a pit bull owner breached their duty of care, which is why it is important to document as much evidence as possible about the circumstances of your dog bite, including eye-witnesses, photos, and video if it is available.  No matter which type of law your state has, you should consult an experienced dog bite attorney to help you get the compensation you may deserve.

HOW MAY A LAWYER DEAL WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANY?

Most damages from a dog bite will be taken care of by the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy of the dog owner.  Claims adjusters will often attempt to persuade you that an attorney is not necessary, because it is their job to save money. Hiring an attorney may help to ensure that you seek the compensation you deserve.  Once hired, your attorney may investigate the incident, and seek to prove liability and/or negligence by the dog owner.  In most cases, the insurer will seek to negotiate a settlement to avoid a costly trial, and your attorney may work to ensure that you seek the compensation you may be entitled to.

LEGAL TIME LIMITS

The statute of limitations for filing a dog bite claim varies by state but is generally the same as that of personal injury claims in most states.  This can vary from one to six years after the injury occurs, but in most states, it will be two or three years from the date of the dog bite.  It is important to consult an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible after you have been injured by a dog bite to make sure that your claim can be timely filed and you don’t lose the right to seek compensation for your injuries.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR CASE

At Zinda Law Group, our pit bull injury attorneys have a wealth of knowledge and experience in dog bite injury cases. If you have been bitten, attacked, or injured by a pit bull, then you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and much more. We believe a dog bite victim should never have to worry about being able to afford legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. You pay nothing unless we win your case. If you or a loved one was bitten by a pit bull, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free consultation with one of our experienced dog bite lawyers. Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.