National Dog Bite Prevention Week
April 12, 2017
It’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week (April 9 – 15)
A dog can be a valued member of the family or a child’s best friend, but when a dog attacks and bites a person, the consequences can be grave. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States. In addition to being extremely painful, dog bites can also cause nerve damage and other serious outcomes. Also, many people do not realize that one out of five bites will become infected, putting the victim at risk for potentially life-threatening illnesses such as rabies, tetanus or MRSA, a dangerous staph infection.
Children are the most frequent victims of dog bites, especially those between the ages of five and nine years old, followed by senior citizens and postal carriers. In addition, men are more likely than women to be the victims of a dog bite.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), most dog bites are preventable. Here are some tips to avoid being bitten:
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog
- Do not run away from a dog or make loud noises or sudden movements
- Never disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or taking care of puppies
- Ask the dog owner for permission to pet a dog and allow the dog to sniff you first
- Always supervise small children when a dog is present
- Do not chase or tease dogs, even if you know them
- If a dog attacks, put whatever is available between you and the dog; such as a jacket, purse or bicycle
Despite our best efforts to prevent them, dog attacks happen. When a dog bites you or your child or loved one, wash the wound thoroughly using soap and warm water. The next step is to contact your physician and get emergency medical attention if needed. Then call your local animal control agency to report the dog attack.
“Remember that dog bites can easily become infected, so medical care should be sought even if the bite appears minor,” says Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm.
Once you obtain appropriate medical treatment, your next call should be to The Sam Bernstein Law Firm, where our experienced team of dog bite lawyers will help you understand your legal rights.
“Michigan dog bite law does not shield the owner of a ‘well-behaved’ dog from liability, so even if the dog has never bitten anyone before, you may still have a legal claim,” explains Bernstein. While many insurance companies may claim the dog was “provoked” by the victim, this claim is usually proven to be false.
Because the long-term consequences of a dog bite may not be immediately apparent, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to get advice on what steps to take right away and in the future.
“It is always best to seek immediate legal help when you or someone in your family has suffered a serious dog bite,” said Bernstein. “Determining the potential damages can be complicated, and our experienced lawyers can help determine what your claim is worth and guide you through the legal process with knowledge and compassion.”