Dog Bites on the Rise Nationwide Amidst COVID-19
In these uncertain times, many people feel like the walls are closing in on them. With stay-at-home orders in place and families living in close quarters with no break from their daily routine, many are feeling a tremendous amount of stress. These unusual times don’t just affect humans either. Our pets are feeling the stress, too. Add to that, new pet adoptions being up, families taking care of pets for sick family and friends, and more people walking on a daily basis—and it all adds up to a spike in dog bite cases.
Nationwide reports of dog attacks are up dramatically. Just last month in Lancaster County, police reported a dog bit a Warwick Township woman as she was out for a walk. She sustained a large laceration to her waist and bruising. This is just one of the thousands of cases reported in the United States these past few weeks. When a dog attacks in the state of Pennsylvania, liability falls on the owner of the dog that attacked. To better understand your rights when a dog bites, and how we can stop these types of attacks from happening, let’s take a closer look at:
- Dog Bites and Owner Liability
- Dog Bite Statistics
- Stress and Pets During COVID-19
- Tips to Help Pets Cope with Sheltering in Place
Dog Bites and Owner Liability
Pennsylvania’s Dog Law requires owners to have reasonable control over their dogs at all times. It also requires dog owners to confine their dogs on their property and to restrain their dog with a collar, a chain, or some other device that prevents their pet from straying. When dog bite victims can prove an owner violated our state’s confinement statute, they may be entitled to compensation due to negligence.
If a dog bites, and the dog has been deemed dangerous as part of our state’s dangerous dog statute, the owner is liable for all damages. This includes compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement.
If the dog has not bitten before, there are two paths that a claim can take:
- If the victim’s injuries are serious (broken bones, disfiguring lacerations, etc.), he or she can make a claim against the dog owner for economic losses (medical bills, wage loss, etc.) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, loss of life’s pleasures, etc.).
- A victim not seriously injured can only make a claim for medical expenses.
Dog Bite Statistics
Dog bites, unfortunately, happen every day. The non-profit organization, DogsBite.org, collects data every year in an effort to educate the public on steps it can take to reduce the number of injuries and dog bite fatalities. Here’s a look at some of the latest statistics:
- Homeowners insurers paid out $797 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2019.
- The average cost of a dog bite-related hospital stay is $18,200 (about 50% higher than the average injury-related hospital stays).
- The average cost per claim rose, nationwide, 134 percent from 2003 to 2019 due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements, judgements and jury awards given to dog bite victims.
- Last year, 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery after being bitten by a dog.
- Every year in the U.S., about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs.
- Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for dog bite-related injuries.
Stress and Pets During COVID-19
Stress can affect pets and cause them to feel anxiety. And let’s face it, we are all stressed out a little more these days. When dogs feel stressed and anxious, they bark, they show signs of aggression or they can exhibit dangerous behavior. Dogs are used to children being at school and adults being at work. Right now, they are finding themselves surrounded by chaos 24/7. While many pets welcome this newly found company, others are having a hard time adjusting to the constant noise, attention and lack of space. This, in turn, can lead to agitation and, possibly, an attack.
Tips to Help Pets Cope with Sheltering in Place
During these challenging times, veterinarians are offering some pointers to help our pets cope with the conditions that come with our sheltering-in-place orders:
- Create a “safe zone” in your home that is a dog only area. This will give them a chance to go somewhere quite when they need some space.
- Small children should always be supervised right now around any dog. Baby gates can be used to keep dogs and kiddos separated when parents aren’t able to actively supervise them.
- Use this time to teach your dog new skills. Challenge your dog to learn new cues, and if a trainer is needed, there are many offering their services virtually.
- If you are able, take your dog on walks often. And ALWAYS keep them on a leash. Because our pets are feeling the stress too, it is best to not allow them to socially interact with other dogs or people. As we practice social distancing—so too, should our pets.
- Have an emergency plan in place for your pets in the event someone becomes too sick to care for them or requires hospitalization.
What to do When a Dog Bites
When a dog attacks, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney right away. At Georgelis Injury Law Firm, we dedicate a specific part of our practice to handling dog bite cases. Having handled many of these claims with great success, we will aggressively fight for your rights and make sure you receive all of the financial compensation to which you are entitled. In fact, we have won more than 99% of our cases and recovered over $50,000,000.00 for our clients.
The dog bite attorneys at Georgelis Injury Law Firm will take the time to learn everything about your claim and how your injuries have affected you and your family. We will carefully listen to your concerns and answer all of your questions, and explain your options in easy to understand language without all of the complicated “legal talk.” It is extremely important to us that our clients fully understand the claim process and have the comfort and peace-of-mind they deserve.
If you want maximum compensation for your dog bite injuries, our seasoned trial lawyers are ready to step in and stand up for your rights with the insurance company. Call Georgelis First at 1-800-HURT-NOW. We are available 24/7, and we never charge a fee unless and until we get compensation for you. During these challenging times, we can speak with you and handle your claim respecting social-distancing and making sure to keep you and your family safe!