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Columbia Dog Bite Lawyer

Dog Bite Attorney in Columbia, SC

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF), well over half a million Americans are treated for injuries resulting from dog bites each year. Over half of those that seek medical care are children, while senior citizens comprise the next highest rate of dog bite patients. Dog bite incidents are scary for all parties involved including the one who was bitten, the dog owner and even the dog itself. Contact our Columbia Dog Bite Lawyers today for help.

Facts on Dog Bites

As of 2018, 48% of the US population owned a dog. While many consider a dog to be their best friend, injuries from a dog bite are a significant health issue, falling into the top 15 causes of non-fatal injuries. In a nine year study conducted by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), from 2005 to 2013, 337,103 people reported to the emergency department for treatment resulting from a dog bite. Of the top 20 reasons people visit an emergency department, dog bites are the 13th most commonly reported injury preceding motorcycle incidents (14th), pedestrian related incidents (15th) and firearm gunshots (16th).

Dog bites happen all the time. In the United States, 2.5 million children are bitten by dogs each year and dog bite incidents commonly occur during everyday activities or while interacting with familiar dogs. The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health has found that young children are at the greatest risk and their injuries typically involve bites to the face, head, and neck. Older dog bite victims generally suffer from injuries to an upper extremity. As with physical sickness like the flu and allergies, reports of dog bites are seasonal and increase during the summer months and on weekends. 80.2% of reported dog bite incidents occur within the home, 7.1% occur on the street, 2.5% at sporting events and schools and the remaining 10% take place at other locations. Those who suffer from a dog bite to a lower extremity, usually report the incident taking place on the street.

Nearly 1 and 5 dog bite incidents require medical attention. Victims of a dog bite incident and society as a whole, suffer a significant financial burden. During NEISS nine year study, it was found that from 2006-2008, the average cost of treatment at an emergency department for an open wound of an extremity, similar to a dog bite, was $979 per visit. With inflation, that comes to $374 million annually or $3.366 billion over the nine year study period. This cost estimate does not consider those who may have treated at other facilities such as urgent care or their primary care physicians office, the cost of subsequent follow-up visits and medications.

Why do dog bites happen?

Dog bites happen for a multitude of reasons. Dog bite incidents most commonly occur as a reaction to something. Whether you encounter a family pet, a stray or strange dog, you are exposing yourself to the potential of suffering a dog bite.

  • When a dog  becomes stressed, it may use biting as a way to defend itself and its territory.
  • If a dog is startled, scared or feels threatened, it may respond by biting.
  • Dogs may bite to protect things valuable to them, such as their puppies, food or a toy.
  • Dogs who may feel unwell, sick, or sore due to injury and illness may respond by biting if they prefer to be left alone.
  • During playtime, dogs may nip. While this may appear fun for a dog, this presents a dangerous opportunity for dog bite incidents. Tug-of-war and wrestling should be avoided with a dog as these activities overly excite dogs.

It is important to remember that any dog may bite: big dogs, small dogs, male dogs, female dogs, young dogs, old dogs, cuddly, fuzzy dogs, and even your sweetest familiar pet. The specific breed of a dog does not determine whether it may bite, but rather the dog’s behavior and history.

Measures to Prevent Dog Bites

Many dog bite incidents are preventable. Understanding why dogs bite is the first step in dog bite prevention. The AVMF recommends the following measures to prevent dog bite incidents.

  • Socializing your dog. Not only will socialization help prevent your dog from biting, socializing will help your dog feel more at ease in a variety of situations. If you have a puppy between the ages of 3 and 14 weeks, begin introducing your puppy to different people, places and other animals. This will help your puppy feel more comfortable in a variety of situations as it gets older. Engaging in proper leash use while in public will help ensure control of your dog.
  • Being a responsible pet owner. Responsible pet ownership builds a strong foundation for dog bite prevention. Some basics of responsible pet ownership include selecting the right dog for your family, engaging in proper training, neutering and spaying and ensuring your dog receives regular exercise.
  • Educating your family. It is important to educate not only yourself, but your family, specifically young children, on how to or whether to approach a dog, familiar, stray or strange.
  • Avoiding risky situations. Risky situations have the potential to escalate quickly. Understanding when to and not interact with dogs will help limit your exposure. A few scenarios to consider before petting a dog include:
    • A dog who is not with its owner.
    • A dog who is with its owner but the owner does not give permission to pet the dog.
    • A dog who is on the other side of a fence. Never reach into or over a fence to pet a dog.
    • A dog that may be sleeping or eating.
    • A dog that appears injured or unwell.
    • A dog with their puppies who appears anxious and very protective.
    • A dog peacefully playing with a toy.
    • A dog that is barking or growling.
    • A dog seeking alone time by hiding.
  • Paying attention to body language. As humans read and observe body language, dogs rely on postures, body gestures, and vocalizations to communicate and express themselves. You may not be able to read a dog’s body language accurately, but their body language may offer helpful clues as to whether the dog feels threatened, frightened or stressed.

6 Actions to Avoid around Dogs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a list of some easy to remember safety tips to prevent being bitten by a dog:

  • AVOID approaching strange dogs that you do not know.
  • AVOID running away from dogs, they will give chase.
  • AVOID panicking or making sudden loud noises that might startle a dog.
  • AVOID disturbing sleeping dogs, and dogs who are eating
  • AVOID promoting aggressive play in your own or other dogs.
  • Most importantly, NEVER let children around a dog while unsupervised.

3 Key Tips to avoid dog bites

  • Remain calm and motionless if approached by a strange dog.
  • Children should find an adult, and adults should reach out to local police or animal control about stray dogs or strange dogs.
  • If a dog that you don’t know knocks you down, curl into a fetal position and put your hands over your head, covering your face and ears.

Recoverable Damages after a Dog bite

As a dog bite victim, you and your family are entitled to seek adequate, just and fair compensation. Compensation considerations include:

  • Cost of medical treatments including those you may need in the future.
  • Current lost wages from being unable to work due to the severity of your injury or missing work to travel and attend medical appointments for ongoing treatment of your dog bite injury.
  • Future lost wages if your dog bite injury results in a permanent disability preventing you from being able to work or work at the same earning capacity as before your dog bite injury.
  • Property damage as a result of your dog bite including torn or ripped clothing or a damaged cell phone.
  • Non-economic damages including your physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of the enjoyment of life.

Many times, owner’s of a dog who has bitten someone refuse to deal with a victim in a reasonable manner. People love their dogs and they may be unwilling to admit their beloved pet acted in a violent way. Another reason dog owners act unreasonably following a dog bite incident is out of fear of facing financial liability for damages their dog caused. The Strom Law Firm Dog Bite Lawyers will fight for you and your family to ensure you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled.

Liability Exposure due to a Columbia Dog Bite

Strom Law Firm SC LawyersCompensable damages for a dog bite injury are commonly paid through a homeowner’s or rental insurance policy up to the applicable limits of the policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability legal expenses, up to the liability limits available within the policy. If the dog bite claim exceeds the applicable limits, the dog owner may be responsible for damages beyond those applicable limits. It is critical to know where in the home or apartment complex the dog bite occurred, including if the dog bite was in an outdoor or common area. The location of the dog bite incident becomes a factor when determining the limits and coverage available for a dog bite claim. Dog owners should be familiar with the language and terms of their insurance policies.

It is possible the applicable insurance policy may not cover the precise area the dog bite incident occurred or the specific breed of dog as it may be one that poses a higher risk of causing injury through bites. Insurance companies may seek to limit exposure by placing a provision on the coverage available through a waiver of liability for dog bites. Insurance companies may also require participation in classes geared towards limiting aggressive behavior or encouraging the use of restraint through muzzles, chains and cages before writing a policy of insurance for specific breeds.

Liability insurance claims for dog bite incidents and other dog-related injuries cost insurance companies $845 million in 2020. While the number of dog bite insurance claims fell 4.6% from 2020 to 2019, the average cost per claim increased by 12.3%. From 2003 to 2020, the average cost per claim rose by 162% due to increased medical costs and the size of settlements, judgments and awards to dog bite victims.

Frequently Asked Questions

Strom Law FirmHow common are Dog Bites? Dog bites happen all the time. Dog bites fall into the top 15 causes of non-fatal injuries and dog bites rank 13th for the top 20 reasons people visit an emergency department. In the United States, 2.5 million children are bitten by dogs each year and these dog bite incidents commonly occur during everyday activities or while interacting with familiar dogs. As with physical sickness like the flu and allergies, reports of dog bites are seasonal and increase during the summer months and on weekends. 80.2% of reported dog bite incidents occur within the home, 7.1% occur on the street, 2.5% at sporting events and schools and the remaining 10% take place at other locations. Those who suffer from a dog bite to a lower extremity, usually report the incident taking place on the street.

What measures can I use to prevent Columbia dog bite incidents?

  • Socializing your dog.
  • Being a responsible pet owner.
  • Educating your family.
  • Avoiding risky situations.
  • Paying attention to body language.

What actions should I avoid around dogs?

  • AVOID approaching stray and strange dogs that you do not know.
  • AVOID running away from dogs, they may chase.
  • AVOID panicking or making sudden loud noises as this might startle the dog.
  • AVOID disturbing sleeping dogs, and dogs who are eating.
  • AVOID promoting aggressive play with your own dog, a stray and strange dogs.
  • NEVER leave children alone, unsupervised, in the presence of a dog.

What are the key tips to avoid a dog bite?

  • If approached by a stray or strange dog, remain calm and motionless.
  • If approached by a stray or strange dog, children should find an adult, and adults should reach out to local police or animal control.
  • If you are knocked down by a stray or strange dog, you should curl into a fetal position and put your hands over your head, covering your face and ears.

If I am bitten by a dog in Columbia, what should I do next?

  1. If the owner of the dog is present, obtain the owner’s name and contact information. Also request proof of the dog’s rabies vaccination record.
  2. Gently clean your wound with soap and water as soon as possible.
  3. Consult your primary care physician immediately or seek emergency medical treatment if the dog bite incident occurred beyond your doctor’s regular office hours.
  4. Contact the dog owner’s veterinarian to verify the dog’s vaccination records.

What if my dog bites someone else. What should I do next?

Remember, dog bite incidents are scary for all parties involved including the one who was bitten, the dog owner and even the dog itself. Should you find yourself in a situation where your dog has bitten someone, it is important to know you are responsible. There are several steps you should immediately take following a dog bite incident. These steps will help limit escalation of this unfortunate situation.

  • Immediately restrain your dog in a safe, effective way.
  • Remove your dog from the scene of the dog bite incident.
  • Seek to confine your dog in a safe space.
  • Check on the condition of your dog’s victim.
  • Work to gently clean the dog bite wound with soap and water.
  • Encourage the victim to consult a medical professional’s advice to assess the severity of the wound and potential risk of infections and rabies.
  • Call 911 if emergency medical transport appears necessary or at the victim’s request.
  • Provide your name, address, phone and all other important contact information to your victim.
  • Provide your dog’s vaccination records, specifically rabies, as well as contact information for your dog’s regular veterinarian.
  • Adhere to all local rules and laws regarding reporting dog bite incidents.
  • Reach out to your veterinarian for resources and advice to help prevent future dog bite incidents.

What damages are available to me if I have been bitten by a dog in Columbia?

As a dog bite victim, you and your family are entitled to seek adequate, just and fair compensation. Compensation considerations include:

  • Cost of medical treatments including those you may need in the future.
  • Current lost wages from being unable to work due to the severity of your injury or missing work to travel and attend medical appointments for ongoing treatment of your dog bite injury.
  • Future lost wages if your dog bite injury results in a permanent disability preventing you from being able to work or work at the same earning capacity as before your dog bite injury.
  • Property damage as a result of your dog bite including torn or ripped clothing or a damaged cell phone.
  • Non-economic damages including your physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of the enjoyment of life.

What if my dog bites someone else. Am I personally responsible for damages to a victim? Compensable damages for a dog bite injury are commonly paid through your homeowner’s or rental insurance policy up to the applicable limits of your policy. According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners and renters insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability legal expenses, up to the liability limits available within your policy. If the dog bite claim exceeds your applicable limits, you, as a dog owner, are responsible for damages beyond those applicable limits. It can be critical to know where in your home or apartment complex the dog bite occurred, including if the dog bite was in an outdoor or common area. The location of the dog bite incident becomes a factor when determining the limits available for a dog bite claim. As a dog owner, you should be familiar with the language and terms of your insurance policy.

Even though you have insurance, it is possible your insurance policy may not cover your specific breed of dog as it may be one that poses a higher risk of causing injury through bites. Your insurance company may seek to limit its exposure by placing a provision on the coverage available through a waiver of liability for dog bites. Your insurance company may also require participation in classes geared towards limiting aggressive behavior or encouraging the use of restraint through muzzles, chains and cages before writing a policy of insurance for specific breeds.

Liability insurance claims for dog bite incidents and other dog-related injuries cost insurance companies $845 million in 2020. While the number of dog bite insurance claims fell 4.6% from 2020 to 2019, the average cost per claim increased by 12.3%. From 2003 to 2020, the average cost per claim rose by 162% due to increased medical costs and the size of settlements, judgments and awards to dog bite victims.

How much is my Columbia dog bite injury worth?

If you have been bitten by a dog, you may suffer mental and emotional harm from being attacked by a dog. These are compensable damages in addition to your physical injuries. It is important to know the name of the dog’s owner, and, if the dog bite occurred at a residential home, or a commercial apartment, the name of the homeowner or the apartment complex. It can be critical to know where in the home or apartment complex that the dog bite occurred, including if the dog bite was in an outdoor or common area.

Why should I hire a Strom Law Firm lawyer to help me with my Columbia dog bite?

After you receive medical treatment for your dog bite, you should speak to one of our Dog Bite Lawyers, who will review the facts of your case and analyze them under South Carolina laws to protect your rights. Recovering can be a complicated process and our Dog Bite Lawyers will be able to advise you throughout the entire recovery process. We will fight for you to receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled. We offer free case evaluations and we do not collect a fee unless we recover for you. Contact the Columbia personal injury attorneys at Strom Law Firm at 803-252-4800 and find out if we are able to help you.

Contact a Columbia Dog Bite Lawyer Immediately

Too often, individuals who take every preventative measure are still bitten by dogs. Many of those bites can be very severe. If you are bitten, call emergency medical services (EMS) or go to the nearest emergency department or urgent care facility. Often, victims suffer mental and emotional harm from being attacked by a dog.  These are compensable damages in addition to physical injuries. It is always important to know the name of the dog’s owner, and, if the dog bite occurred at a residential home, or a commercial apartment, the name of the homeowner or the apartment complex.

Pete Strom Attorney
Dog Bite Attorney, Pete Strom

It can be critical to know where in the home or apartment complex that the dog bite occurred, including if the dog bite was in an outdoor or common area. After receiving the medical treatment that you require, you should speak to one of our Dog Bite Lawyers, who will review the facts of your case and analyze them under South Carolina laws to protect your rights.

Whether you can recover for your dog bite injuries, and who is responsible for your dog bite injuries can be a complicated process, which means it is necessary for an attorney to advise and help you through the process. A dog bite lawyer will fight for you to receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled. We offer free case evaluations and we do not collect a fee unless we recover for you. Contact the Columbia dog bite attorneys at Strom Law Firm at 803-252-4800 and find out if we are able to help you.


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