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Dog Bite Lawyers in Buffalo

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover money damages against the dog’s owner.  The specific laws regarding dog bites vary by region, but generally, a dog’s owner is held liable for any injuries caused by their pet.  In order to win a dog bite lawsuit, you will need to prove that the dog bite occurred and that the dog’s owner was negligent in some way, such as by failing to properly restrain the dog or by not warning you that the dog was dangerous. 

What Types of Dogs Are Most Likely to Bite?

There is no one breed of dog that is more likely to bite a person than any other breed.  Any dog, regardless of breed, can bite if they feel threatened or scared.  Factors such as a dog’s individual temperament, training, and socialization, as well as the actions of the person interacting with the dog, play a much greater role in determining whether a dog will bite than the dog’s breed.  All dogs have the potential to bite, and responsible ownership and proper training are key to preventing dog bites.

Do I Need to See a Doctor if a Dog Bites Me?

It is important to immediately seek medical attention if you have been bitten by a dog.  Dog bites can cause a range of injuries, from minor skin wounds to serious infections and tissue damage.  Common injuries include puncture wounds, lacerations, and abrasions.  In some cases, a dog bite can lead to serious complications such as rabies, tetanus, or a bacterial infection.  It’s important to clean and treat any wound caused by a dog bite as soon as possible to reduce the risk of infection. If the bite is severe or the person is at risk of infection, they should seek medical attention immediately.

A doctor will typically clean and disinfect a dog bite wound to reduce the risk of infection. They may use a saline solution to flush out the wound and remove any debris,  The doctor also may use an antiseptic solution to clean the area. The wound may then be closed with sutures (“stitches”) or staples if necessary.  Depending on the severity of the bite, the doctor may also administer a tetanus shot, antibiotics or other medications to prevent infection.  Sometimes, one or more surgery is required to repair the damage.  In case of a deep wound or injury to the face, the doctor may refer to the plastic surgeon.

Medical personnel also may recommend follow-up care, such as re-cleaning the wound and changing dressings at home.  It’s important to monitor the wound for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, warmth, or pus.  If the injured person experiences fever or other signs of infection, they should seek medical attention immediately.

Do I Need a Rabies Shot if I Get a Dog Bite?

Dog bites can transmit diseases such as rabies, so the doctor may also take steps to check the vaccination status of the dog and the person who was bitten.  Whether or not you need a rabies shot after being bitten by a dog depends on several factors, including the vaccination status of the dog, the location of the bite, and the severity of the wound.  If the dog that bit you is known to be up to date on its rabies vaccination, it is unlikely that you will need a rabies shot.  However, if the dog’s vaccination status is unknown, the doctor may recommend a rabies shot as a precautionary measure.  If the bite occurred in an area where rabies is common and the dog that bit you is known to be unvaccinated or if the wound is deep, the doctor may recommend a series of rabies shots as a precautionary measure.  In case of deep wounds, the doctor may also take a sample of the wound and send it for testing.

Rabies shots, where indicated and advised by a doctor, are essential and lifesaving, but they are not pleasant.  A series of rabies shots, also known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), is a treatment given to a person who has been exposed to the rabies virus through a bite or a scratch from an infected animal.  The treatment involves a series of shots given over a period of time to prevent the person from developing rabies.

The typical PEP regimen includes a dose of human rabies immune globulin (HRIG) given as soon as possible after exposure and four doses of a rabies vaccine given on the day of the exposure and then on days after the exposure. The HRIG provides immediate, short-term protection against the virus by providing the patient with a high level of rabies antibodies.  The rabies vaccine then works to stimulate the person’s own immune system to produce its own protection against the virus.

If a person is bitten by a suspect animal, it is important to seek immediate medical attention and report the incident to the local health department.  These painful shots will also become part of the injured person’s claim for damages if they file a lawsuit.

Will the Dog Be Put Down if I Report a Dog Bite?

In New York, there is no State law that requires a dog to be put down for biting a person.  The State’s dog bite laws are based on what is commonly referred to as the “one bite rule,” which means that a dog’s owner is only held liable for a bite if they knew or should have known the dog had a tendency to bite.  The decision to put down a dog that has bitten someone is typically made by the dog’s owner or by a court.  However, if a dog has bitten someone, the local animal control or health department may require the dog to be quarantined for a period of time to ensure that it does not have rabies.  In some cases, if a dog is deemed dangerous, the owner may be required to take certain measures such as muzzling the dog in public or taking an obedience class with the dog.

Who Is Liable for a Dog Bite?

In New York, a dog’s owner will be liable for a bite if they knew or should have known that the dog had a tendency to bite.  This means that if the dog has never bitten anyone before and the owner had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous, they may not be held liable for the first bite.  However, if the dog has bitten someone before or has shown aggressive behavior, the owner will be held liable for any future bites. Additionally, if the owner was aware that the dog had a tendency to bite and failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent a bite from occurring, they may be held liable even if the dog has never bitten anyone before.

There are some specific situations where an owner may be held liable regardless of the dog’s history of biting or aggressive behavior.  For example, if the owner was violating a leash law or allowing the dog to roam off-leash in an area where it is prohibited, they may be held liable.  If a dog owner violates the animal control laws or disregards any warning signs, they may be held liable for any injury caused by the dog.

It’s important to note that laws can vary by city or county, so it’s best to consult with a lawyer to understand the specific laws in your area.

Should I Contact a Lawyer if a Dog Bites Me?

Yes.  There are important and complex issues that need to be evaluated related to how the incident happened, who may be at fault, and what deadlines exist to bring a claim.  If you or your loved one gets bitten by a dog, look for a New York personal injury lawyer who understands dog bite cases.  The personal injury attorneys at The Coppola Firm have decades of experience representing people who have been injured. We are conveniently located in suburban Amherst, New York, with a ground floor office, close, free parking, and easy office access.  Our lawyers will come to meet you at your home, office, or hospital, or via call or videoconference to minimize your need to travel, if you like.  The lawyers at The Coppola Firm represent people across the State of New York. Reach out to us anytime online or call 716.839.9700.

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