It can happen without warning, in any number of ways. A dog comes up to you, wagging, but when you bend over to look at its tags, it bites you. Or you’re walking your own pet in the neighborhood when the dog across the street gets out of its yard and, feeling territorial, barks and attacks. Or your child, playing with a friend’s pet, suddenly gets bitten and runs to you, shrieking and bleeding.
In all cases, you’re faced with an injury, a level of trauma, and an angry or upset animal. In some cases, you’ve also got a neighbor or pet owner to deal with.
Animal attacks are frightening. They can cause severe physical damage and long-lasting emotional issues. In the worst cases, a human can die.
Physically, an animal bite can be a combination of puncture wounds and torn skin and muscle. If not treated properly, it can easily become infected. If a dog has not been vaccinated against rabies, there are shots that need to be administered. Severe animal bites are not something you want to manage without professional medical help.
Emotional wounds can take time to heal as well. When you are attacked by an animal, your brain’s natural “fight-or-flight” response kicks in, alerting you to danger and sending surges of adrenalin and cortisol into your body. This response, also called the stress response, is harnessing your body’s forces to either protect itself or flee: your heart beats faster, your breathing quickens, and your senses go on hyper-alert. It also imprints the memory in great detail. Even after the attack is long over and the danger is past, you can have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the intense experience.
Once the actual episode is over and you’ve gotten treatment, you may wonder whether you have a legal right to ask for damages from the owner of the animal. It can be a difficult situation, especially if the owner is someone you know. And dog bites can be a controversial issue; many people believe certain breeds are more dangerous than others; this is not necessarily true. Others think that a dog only bites when provoked, which is also not always the case. A dog can bite when it feels that it or a member of its family is threatened, when it feels territorial, when it is hurt or sick, when it has been trained to attack, or when it has been poorly socialized, neglected or abused. Conversely, not all dogs in those situations bite. This is why an attorney who understands the laws and circumstances around animal bites can be helpful.
And while dog bites are the most common animal bite reported, other animals can attack as well. Cats (both domestic and those meant to be wild), snakes and monkeys all can be dangerous. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year; of those, close to a million (885,000) seek medical help, between 26,000-160,000 develop infections, about 30,000 require surgery, and between 10 and 20 people die. Children are the most common victims. Cat bites are the second most-common bite – about 400,000 a year, with about 66,000 people seeking medical help. Monkey bites are rarer, though they also can cause rabies. Snake bites worldwide number as high as 5 million people; if a snake is venomous, a person can require treatment with antivenom, which only a professional can do.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a vicious animal attack, let us help you with the situation. Especially in the case of severe wounds, it may be important to get help with your medical bills (for both physical and psychological wounds), as well as lost wages when appropriate. Las Vegas attorney Peter Mazzeo has extensive experience in both civil and criminal law, and has represented many personal-injury clients, including those who suffered animal attacks.
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