If you or a loved one has been bitten or attacked by a dog, you have rights under the law. Louisiana statutes impose a strict liability on all dog owners. This means they can be sued for injuries or illness caused by bites or attacks from their dogs as long as the animal was not provoked by the injured party.
Every year throughout the U.S., roughly 4.5 million people are seriously injured by dog bites. The most frequently attacked group are children between the ages of 5 and 9. Twenty percent of the dog bites occurring annually become infected, which can cause severe illness and even death. If your injury caused pain, suffering, trauma, and medical costs, you deserve compensation for your losses. Contact Louisiana attorney Bart Bernard to discuss your legal options.
As with any type of accident, you should contact a dog bite attorney as soon as possible after the attack, so that the details are fresh in your mind. However, injured parties should know claims for damages may be filed up to one year after the date of the attack.
Dog bites are associated with serious injuries including deep lacerations, broken bones, nerve damage, infection and permanent scarring. In many cases, victims of dog attacks experience significant psychological distress that lasts well beyond physical injuries.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that people injured by a bite wash the area as soon as possible with soap and warm water. Then, put antibiotic cream on the area to guard against the risk of infection. The area should also be covered with a bandage.
If the wound is bleeding or deep, seek immediate medical attention. Dog bites can cause staph and other infections, such as tetanus. It’s also a good idea to see a doctor if it’s been more than five years since you or the injured loved one has had a tetanus shot, especially if the wound is deep.
The risk of contracting rabies from a dog bite can never be ruled out. If possible, contact the owner to see if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies. It’s also a good idea to report the incident to local animal control authorities.
If the wound doesn’t seem serious at first, but becomes painful, warm, red, or swollen, seek medical attention right away. Those are signs of possible infection.
The law in Louisiana is very clear on a dog owner’s legal responsibilities. The owner can be sued for damages if it can be proven that the owner was aware or should reasonably have been aware that the dog’s behavior could cause harm or damage. A person bitten by a dog on a sidewalk, for example, can argue that the dog owner’s lack of a fence around the yard or leash for the dog was failure of reasonable care.
The statute in Louisiana is based on negligence law. Failure to take care is a form of negligence.
Although the law is commonly referred to as “dog bite law,” it is important to note that it applies to any injury. If, for example, a dog is in its owner’s yard but runs out and knocks a child down next door, and the child breaks an arm, the owner may be held liable for damages.
In addition, the relevant section of the Louisiana Civil Code is titled “Damage caused by animals.” The law applies not only to dog bites and injury, but to any injury or damage from an animal. If you have been scratched in the eye by a cat or bitten by a neighbor’s pet goat, for example, you may also bring a suit for damages.
The only exception to the owner’s liability is if it can be proven that the injured person provoked the animal. If a dog was, for example, poked with a stick repeatedly before biting, the owner may be able to successfully defend the complaint.
Louisiana has a comparative negligence rule. In cases where the injured party may be partially responsible, and proved to be so, any award may be reduced by the percentage the court decides he or she was responsible.
There is a statute of limitations on filing a personal injury lawsuit for injuries sustained in a dog attack. Legal action must be taken within one year of the dog bite.
In some cases, dog bites may be covered by dog bite liability insurance offered in a homeowner or renter insurance policy. However, insurance companies are increasingly refusing to insure certain breeds that have been associated with attacks, such as Rottweilers and pit bulls.
Dog bite settlement amounts depend on the type and magnitude of damages incurred during the attack. Courts award damages for pain and suffering, any lost income caused by inability to work after the attack, disability, and medical bills, among other categories. A skilled dog bite lawyer will be able to advise you on the potential value of your injury claim.
If you or someone you love was injured by a dog bite, or an animal attack, call The Bart Bernard Personal Injury Law Firm for a free, no-obligation case review. We will work closely with you throughout every step of the dog bite claim.
Bart Bernard’s record of success has been earned by conducting thorough investigations of dog bite and animal attack cases throughout Louisiana.
Please contact our office in Baton Rouge at 225-275-BART, Lafayette at 337-989-BART, or Lake Charles at 337-475-BART today.
Last modified: February 15, 2017