You’re walking down the street – suddenly a dog comes tearing at you, barking madly. An owner follows 20 feet behind, hollering for the dog to stop. The next thing you know, you’re a chew toy for the dog.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly one million of us each year will be bitten by a dog with enough severity to require medical care and treatment. In 2012, nearly 27,000 people required reconstructive surgery due to a dog bite. In fact, dog bites are the 5th leading cause of emergency room visits for children.
So is this a case of “dogs will be dogs”? Or do these bites have other causes? Most dog bites occur at the dog’s home. Homeowners can become complacent – they are so accustomed to their dog’s behavior when guests aren’t around, they forget to closely watch the dog when guests are present.
But sometimes, dog owners are in denial.
“He only nips.” “He was just startled.” “He doesn’t like small children.” “She only bites workmen.” “He hates the mailman.”
It’s not OK to let dogs that bite near guests or kids. It’s not OK to let dogs that bite roam free. It’s not OK to walk dogs without a stout leash.
And it’s really not OK to ‘forget’ to give a dog its shots.
We have represented many victims of dog bites. From mail carriers to children – small dogs to large – our clients suffered terrifying attacks by dogs known to be aggressive and dangerous. One unlucky client was not only bitten, but had to undergo rabies shots as the attacking dog wasn’t up to date on its shots.
For our clients with serious injuries, we have yet to find a dog who ‘snapped’ out of the blue. Almost inevitably, good investigation work shows a dog who either has bitten before or has been extremely aggressive before. Rare is the gentle Lassie who suddenly bites for no reason.
Wisconsin law allows the victims of dog bites to hold the dog owners responsible. Most commonly, this means the homeowners insurance of the dog owner (or the home where the dog was staying).
Wisconsin also as a “second bite” law. If owners fail to control a dog that has bitten before, and that dog bites a second time, the owner is required to pay twice the damages of the injured person. Why? It gives owners who keep dangerous dogs an incentive to be extra-certain the dog never bites again. The hope is that the owner will take the risk of significant damages into account when they manage their dangerous dog.
Dogs are some of our most devoted companions. They are friends, members of our families, and hold a special place in our hearts. But when they bite, they can cause terrible injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog bite, call us. We understand the law, as well as your injuries, and can help guide yu through the process.