Dog bites are more common—and potentially more serious—than a lot of people believe. Many of us have been bitten by a dog at least once in our lifetime, and in most of these cases no major harm resulted from the encounter. Much of the time, the culprit is not a stray dog but a household pet who was inadvertently provoked into an attack. These are more or less isolated incidents. Dog bites can and sometimes do lead to severe health complications, however. If you have suffered a dog bite injury, we invite you to contact one of the New York personal injury lawyers at The Dearie Law Firm, P.C. We have provided legal assistance to numerous dog bite attack victims in NYC.
Statistics on Dog Bite Attacks
The World Health Organization has released some telling statistics about dog bite injuries in the United States:
- Every year, 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs. Children are most likely to be victimized by a dog bite attack.
- Around 885,000 of these dog bite injury victims will seek out medical care.
- Around 30,000 will undergo reconstructive surgery for their injury.
- Approximately 3 to 18 percent of bites result in the development of infection.
- 10 to 20 people die as a result of a dog bite.1
Most Common Breeds Responsible for Dog Bites
When it comes to dog bite injuries, the statistics show that some breeds are more dangerous than others. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the following dog breeds were responsible for the most human fatalities over the period 1979-1994:
- Pit bulls (60 deaths)
- Rottweilers (29)
- German shepherds (19)
- Huskies (14)
- Alaskan Malamutes (12)
Other breeds responsible for at least four fatalities during this period were the Doberman Pincher, the Chow Chow, the Great Dane, the St. Bernard, and the Akita. Twelve of these total fatalities occurred in New York state.2
It is important to understand that all dog breeds, including those not mentioned above, are capable of biting human beings and causing substantial harm.
Diseases Transmitted by Dog Bites
Of course, the vast majority of people who are bitten by dogs survive the encounter. Major medical complications can still develop, though. In addition to experiencing the physical trauma of a powerful dog bite, victims sometimes become seriously ill. Dogs are carriers of a number of diseases that are communicable to human beings.
- Pasteurella – This is a very common type of bacteria associated with domestic animal bites. Most of the time, pasteurella leads to a localized red infection, but it can be more severe in individuals with a compromised immune system.
- Capnocytophaga canimorsus – Another type of bacteria, this too causes little problem for most people, but it sometimes triggers serious complications in those with weak immune systems or reduced spleen functioning.
- MRSA – Otherwise known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, this bacteria can lead to skin and lung infections, which occasionally become life-threatening. Infections present themselves initially with tiny red bumps, sometimes in conjunction with fever. It can be very difficult to treat.
- Tetanus – Also called “lockjaw,” this is a potentially serious infection caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. It is characterized by spasms that begin in the jaw area and gradually spread throughout the body.
- Rabies – The most dangerous disease mentioned here, rabies is caused by a viral infection, and it is virtually always fatal in unvaccinated individuals. Fortunately, rabies is rare—it can be transmitted only by the bite of an infected animal—but contracting this disease is certainly not an impossibility.
New York Laws Pertaining to Dog Bites
In the state of New York, dog owners are held liable for medical expenses incurred by a bite. Dog owners are generally not liable for additional non-medical expenses unless they are judged to have acted negligently in the handling of the animal. However, if the dog had a known history of violent or aggressive behavior (“vicious propensities”) that the owner knew about or reasonably should have known about, then they may be held responsible for non-medical expenses, such as pain and suffering compensation. It’s worth pointing out that dogs cannot be judged dangerous by the courts solely on the basis of breed—e.g., a pit bull is not held to have vicious propensities merely because of the reputation attached to these dogs.
To speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer in New York City, Contact Us or call any time at 1-800-2-DEARIE.