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The expense of a dog bite: An adult's guide

Dog bites are not inexpensive. In fact, the average dog bite claim in 2010 cost $26,166. As someone who has been attacked by a dog, the good news is that the owner is liable for the attack so long as you did not provoke the animal on purpose. For example, hitting an animal to provoke it might invalidate your claim, but suffering an attack while riding a bike confirms it.

Whenever a dog bites you, the first thing to do is to get medical help. Bites often become infected. Dogs have strong jaws and puncture, tear and damage ligaments, bones, skin and joints. You may need surgery or other medical treatments. For example, if the dog has no vaccination records, you may need to receive the rabies vaccine. If you have not had a tetanus shot in a long period of time, you may need to receive it when you seek medical attention.

Winning the case won't be automatic for you

Owners are usually liable for any bite or attack caused by a pet. There are defenses, though, that the owner may use against your claims. For instance, the owner may claim that your behavior was negligent and that you assumed risk by acting in a certain way. For example, if you kick an animal and it bites you, you contributed to that attack. Likewise, if you trespass on a property with a warning about dogs on the premises, the jury may not feel the owner is responsible for your injuries.

Things in your favor

If the owner has a history of trouble with the pet, that works in your favor. You can then show that the dog is aggressive and was a risk to others in society. When you seek compensation, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and property damage claims are all acceptable in court.

You can ask for compensation for medical costs, like the expenses accrued for therapy or surgeries, the pain and suffering you went through, travel expenses when heading to hospitals or traveling for medical care, damage to your property, such as clothing or a damaged bicycle and for lost wages that you did not receive due to missing work.

Your attorney can help you gather up information on your total expenses and work toward a settlement that takes into account everything you've been through and expect to go through as you recover. It's the owner's responsibility to cover your expenses due to the violent nature of his or her pet.

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