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Dog Bite Accidents

Summer Dog Bites—What to Watch For

It’s summer, and while that means cookouts, beach trips, and outdoor fun, it also means there’s a greater risk of dog attacks. Every year, 4.5 million Americans, half of them small children, are bitten by a dog and the number of attacks tends to rise with the temperature. Whether being outside more increases our exposure to strange dogs or some dogs simply become more aggressive in the heat, it’s important to exercise caution in the summer. Here’s how to reduce the chances of a dog bite while enjoying the warm weather with your family.

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Look Out For Your Own Dog

While it may be hard to believe, the CDC reports that over half of all dog bites come from dogs that are familiar to us. They could be the dogs of our friends and neighbors, or even your own household pet. It’s important to do all you can to make sure your dog doesn’t overheat in the summer sun. Never leave your dog unattended outside or unattended with your children. If you or your children are playing with your dog outside, give them plenty of opportunities to rest indoors or in the shade, and ensure that they have access to clean water. Pay attention to signs of aggression from your pet, such as becoming stiff, growling, snapping, or snarling. These might be signs that they need space.

Teach Your Children Dog Safety

Children naturally love dogs, but they often don’t understand how rough they are with them or how dangerous pets can be when agitated. Taking the time to teach your children how to be gentle with dogs and approach them respectfully can reduce the chances of them getting bit. Furthermore, it’s important to educate your children about asking owners if it is okay to pet their dog and not to approach animals they don’t know, especially animals who are without an owner.

Avoid Strange Dogs

Dogs without a clear owner might be wild or sick. They can carry serious diseases and cause grievous harm. If a strange dog approaches you or your children this summer, remain calm. Do not panic or shout at the dog, as this can provoke the animal. Back away from the dog slowly and do not make eye contact with it—the dog could interpret that as a sign of aggression. If you are in a public space such as park or beach, move to a new area or leave altogether. If the dog has entered your yard, move everyone inside and shut the door. In both cases, consider calling your local animal control office to inform them of the incident.

Know What To Do If A Dog Attacks

Even if you do everything you can to avoid provoking a dog, you or your children could still be bitten. If that happens, make sure you know the proper first aid techniques to deal with the wound. In general, it is a good idea to seek medical attention for a dog bite right away, even if the wound seems superficial. Dog bites can appear shallower than they actually are and could puncture muscles, bones, and nerves. You should especially consider seeking medical attention if the dog is unknown to you and does not appear to have an owner, or if your child is bitten. Rabies is a concern if it cannot be verified that the animal has not had its rabies vaccinations or that the animal tests negative for rabies. If the dog does have an owner, try to obtain information about the dog’s vaccination history and any similar incidents in the past.

Exercising caution can greatly reduce the chances of a dog bite this summer. If you have any questions about dog bite law or if you or a loved one are bitten by a dog, don’t hesitate to contact a dog bite lawyer at Mazow | McCullough today for a consultation at (855) 693-9084.

Reduce the Risk Your Dog Will Bite

Although dogs have earned the title of “man’s best friend,” sometimes dogs can be aggressive and will bite another person. This can create a host of problems, including a liability lawsuit if the victim of the bite brings forward a claim for damages. Prevention is key when it comes to dog bites, and it’s important as a responsible dog owner to take action to keep your dog from biting in the first place. Here’s how you can reduce the risk that your dog will bite or attack.

Spay or Neuter Your Dog

Studies have shown that most dog bites were done by a dog that had not been spayed or neutered.

Supervise Your Dog

Always supervise your dog when around other people, especially children. Teach children who are going to constantly be around the dog to treat him/her gently and with respect. Let them know that sometime the dog will need their space and that they have to respect that.

Socialize Your Dog

It is very important to expose your dog to its surroundings. Introduce him/her to new people and other dogs. This will greatly diminish any fears that your dog may have of the outside world, which will in turn make him/her less likely to be fearful and frightened which can cause them to lash out. One important rule to remember when socializing your dog is to take it slow. If you see that your dog may need more time dealing with certain scenarios, ease back and let him/her progress at their own pace. You do not want your dog to become so uncomfortable and frightened that he lashes out and bites someone.

Make Your Dog a Part of Your Family

Don’t keep your dog tied up in the backyard all day. This can make your dog feel lonely and defenseless. When dogs feel defenseless, due to being constantly restrained and not being able to move freely they are more likely to bite.

Be On the Lookout

Be vigilant toward common triggers that may make your dog uncomfortable and cause him/her to lash out and bite. Try to avoid putting your dog in these situations. After all, we all need a little help when it comes to staying out of trouble when situations are less than favorable.

By taking action to reduce the risk of your dog biting, you can rest assured that your dog most likely won’t attack. If you have questions about dog bite law or what to do in the event of a dog bite, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced dog bite lawyer at Mazow | McCullough today.

How to Protect Your Children From Dog Attacks

A dog attack can be devastating and even deadly, especially to a child. A dog can inflict serious injuries, including deep scratches and large bite wounds. Often, dog bites get infected, posing a serious health risk. Here’s how you can protect your children from potential dog attacks.

John Maher:  Hi I’m John Maher and today I am here with Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough of the law firm Mazow | McCullough, a personal injury law firm with offices in Massachusetts in New Hampshire.

Robert and Kevin have great deal of experience as dog bite attorneys and today we are going to be talking about how to protect your children from dog attacks.

Robert and Kevin welcome.

Robert Mazow:  Thank you.

Kevin McCullough:  Good morning John.

Are Children at a Higher Risk for Dog Attacks?

John:  Are children more at risk for a dog attack than adults?

Robert:  John, the dog bite cases that we see in children tend to be more serious because they tend to occur in the facial area. Obviously, children would be more likely to be lower to the ground in the dog’s attack range, so the cases we see are damages to children eyes, their cheeks, and really deep tissue kinds of injuries.

John:  Right. Is the dog bite then more dangerous in a child than in an adult typically?

Robert:  I don’t know if more dangerous necessarily. If the dog has a propensity to be dangerous, the dog is going to be dangerous. But I think the child is more likely to approach a dog without the fear or built in protection that an adult might have.

John:  Adults tend to be more cautious and maybe even like think to ask the owner, “Is it OK if I pet this dog?” whereas the child will just go up and just do it.

Robert:  Exactly. So we tend to see that a child might startle the dog, even a dog that does not necessarily have danger propensity, and every dog is going to react differently.

If a child approaches them quickly, a dog could turn around and latch onto their face or their upper body or their arms very quickly.

John:  That’s another problem too. I think that because kids are obviously shorter than adults typically, dog bites probably tend to be more in upper body and in the face and the neck and areas like that, whereas with an adult it might be more the legs or the hands.

Robert:  Exactly. In adults, we do see some facial injures if they’re down on the ground, perhaps playing with the dog, but more likely in an adult, we are going to see [injuries on] the arms and hands, because they’re fending off the dog or maybe they approaching the dog from that angle.

How Can a Parent Help Prevent Dog Attacks?

John:  OK. How can a parent help to prevent a dog from attacking their child?

Kevin:  Parents can be mindful of the type of dog that they let their children around, whether it’s a dog that they own or whether they’re visiting friends and family and relatives.

Just be cautious and make sure that they don’t leave their kids alone in a room with the dog. Make sure that they don’t sneak up from behind on the dog and startle the dog as Robert had mentioned. Because children are smaller, they tend to approach the dog at eye level.

That’s something that the dog may feel threatened by and may feel the need to react to defend itself. So, just be mindful of that where you are at, the type of dogs that may be there, and take the appropriate steps to keep your children away from dogs that may be dangerous or known to be dangerous.

John:  Right.

Robert:  Just adding on to that, I think a parent telling a child early on to be mindful of dogs, to make sure they speak with the owner or the person handling the dog before they even attempt to approach the dog or try to pet the dog.

John:  Right. Without scaring a child, because you obviously you don’t want a kid to just be growing up and be afraid of animals. But give them a little bit of cautious approach to it where, you definitely ask the owner if it’s OK if you pet the dog.

Make sure you put your hand out a little bit for the dog and wait for them to come to you. Teach your child a little bit of those standard ways to approach an animal that we’ve all learned. I think it is probably a good thing to do.

Robert:  Exactly.

What to Do If Your Child Is Bitten by a Dog

John:  What should a parent do then in the event that their child is bitten by a dog?

Kevin:  A parent should get the immediate appropriate medical attention for the child and that should be in response to the type of bite or the type of dog attack, obviously.

If it’s something very extensive or severe, get immediate medical treatment, listen to the doctors, follow up with the pediatrician for the child and also do the follow up in communicating with the dog owner or the location where the dog incident occurred.

Take the appropriate steps to contact the police, gather witness information but specifically for the medical treatment, get the treatment that is appropriate with that bite, whether it’s going to the hospital or just following up with a pediatrician or both.

Ultimately, with severe bites it may require some scar revision and following up with plastic surgeons.

John:  Right. All right that’s really great information Robert and Kevin thanks for meeting to speak with me today.

Robert:  Thank you.

Kevin:  Thank you.

John:  For more information on dog bite cases or other personal injury cases visit the firm’s website at helpinginjured.com or call 855-693-9084.

How to React When You Are Bitten by a Neighbor’s Dog

Dog bites often occur from dogs that the victim knows or has come into contact with in the past, like a neighbor’s dog. However, it can be difficult to know what steps to take if a friend’s or neighbor’s dog bites you. Here’s how you should react.

John Maher:  Hi I’m John Maher and today I’m here with Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough of the law firm of Mazow | McCullough, a personal injury law firm with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Robert and Kevin have a great deal of experience as dog bite attorneys, and today we are going to be talking about how to react when you’re bitten by a friend or a neighbor’s dog.

Robert and Kevin welcome.

Kevin McCullough:  Thank you, John.

Robert Mazow:  Thank you, John.

What Should You Do If You’re Bitten by a Neighbor’s Dog?

John:  What should a person do if they are bitten by a friend or a neighbor’s dog? Obviously, there’s not just some stranger, you want to react in a certain way that doesn’t go overboard. You still have to live next to these people and you want to have a good relationship with your neighbors obviously, for obvious reasons.

What’s the reaction that you ought to have?

Kevin:  There is some sensitivity here with this particular scenario, and you want to be mindful of the relationship that you or your child may have with that friend or neighbor. In the same respect, the friend or neighbor who owns the dog, if an attack or bite occurs, [that person] needs to be considerate for the person who was bitten.

John:  Sure.

Kevin:  Any reaction should be proportionate to the type of incident or the extent of severity of the incident. Certainly, the communication should be open if it’s a friend or neighbor.

If in fact, if the friend or neighbor is unwilling to share information, that may [indicate] that there were some prior incidents in the past that they worried about coming to light and what may happen with the dog.

You do want to be careful and considerate as a victim of a dog bite or dog attack when dealing with a friend or a neighbor. But you’d also want to obtain as much information as you can, specifically in regards to whether or not the dog is up to date its rabies shots, tetanus shots, and things of that nature with the trial or the victim.

Just to make sure the injuries could be treated properly, the medical bills that are incurred can be paid for appropriately, whether it’s through the homeowners insurance for the dog owner, the friend or neighbor, or the health insurance coverage for person that may be bit.

Does a Dog Owner Have to Pay Out of Pocket When Their Dog Bites?

John:  Will the owner then have to pay the settlement out of their own pocket?

Kevin:  It really depends in the proximity or the location where the bite occurred. Homeowners’ coverage for the dog owner may provide coverage to a limited extent for medical bills if the attack or bite occurs on their property.

If the bite or attack occurs off of their property, that homeowners’ coverage wouldn’t be applicable for that. So the homeowner would then hope that the homeowners’ insurance coverage, their liability coverage may come and deploy to help with those medical bills.

If the dog owner or property owner where the bite occurs does not have homeowners’ coverage, it may, in fact, lead to out-of-pocket expenses paid to the dog bite victim, being presented to that person personally and they would have to pay out of pocket.

John:  Right. That’s something to certainly think about, because if you have a good relationship with your neighbor, it’s difficult to think about making them pay thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

On the other hand, if that’s what happened and your child is injured or something like that, you obviously need to get those expenses reimbursed somehow.

Kevin:  Yes. We do see this very frequently and that’s why with our office in our handling of this particular cases we are extremely mindful of the dynamic of the relationship between the dog owner and the dog bite victim.

We are not the type of a law firm that would immediately rush to file a lawsuit because while you can file a lawsuit, it’s a type of thing that we investigate the claim including the damages involved as well as the insurance information for the dog owner.

Oftentimes the dog owner does have insurance and it can be resolved amicably with the insurance company, with presenting the claim and presenting the claim properly. However, if, in fact, there is either a denial of coverage or an issue regarding the value of the case or a claim or the extent of the injuries or damages, we would file that lawsuit.

We would do that by communicating with the client, keeping them informed and it would be a decision they would make, ultimately whether or not to file a lawsuit or pursue that claim, based upon their relationship with the dog owner.

What Will Happen to Your Neighbor’s Dog If They Bite?

John:  Right. What could happen to the dog who bit me or who bit my child?

Kevin:  That is really an issue up to the local town or city and the animal control officer within that town or city. Oftentimes, we do receive telephone calls with inquiries regarding what could happen to the dog.

That’s not really a decision that can be made by the dog victim alone, or our office for that matter. That’s something that it really depends upon the history of the dog.

Whether or not they have prior incidents in the past and whether or not they’ve attacked or bitten in the past. The type of dog involved [matters], and each town and city has different requirements or laws in place in regards to what they may allow a dog owner to get away with or to have for a type of dog and how many incidents can occur before they may take action.

John:  Right, right. Robert anything to add in terms of dealing with neighbors in these types of cases?

Robert:  As Kevin said, we’re sensitive to the issue. Most of the cases that we see, however, if the owner’s dog has caused some damage to their friend or neighbor’s child or the friend or neighbor themselves, we tend to see a willingness on the part of the dog owners to do what they need to do to make it right. If that is hopefully through some sort of a homeowners insurance coverage, great.

If it turns out that there are medical bills that are owed, we tend to see most people step up and do what they need to do and make sure that the victim is not [paying] significant medical bills out-of-pocket.

John:  Right. It’s probably a good idea to go into a situation like that, assuming the best out of people and that people are probably going to do what they’re supposed to do and only take action if you need to.

Robert:  Right. If they’re a true friend, they’re going to tend to do the right thing to do.

John:  All right that’s great advice, Robert and Kevin, thanks for speaking with me today.

Kevin:  Thank you, John.

Robert:  Thanks, John.

John:  For more information on dog bite cases or other personal injury cases, visit the law firm’s website at helpinginjured.com, or call 855-693-9084.

What to Do If You Don’t Know Who Owns the Dog That Bit You

If you are bitten by a stray dog and don’t know who owns the dog that bit you, do you have legal recourse? How can you recover financial compensation for the medical bills and other damages you’ve incurred as a result of the bite? Here’s what you need to know.

John Maher:  Hi I’m John Maher. Today I’m here with Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough of the law firm of Mazow | McCullough, a personal injury law firm with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Robert and Kevin have a great deal experience as dog bite attorneys and today we are going to be talking about what to do if you don’t know who owns the dog that bit you. Robert and Kevin, welcome.

Robert Mazow:  Thank you, John.

Kevin McCullough:  Thank you, John.

What Should You Do If The Dog That Bit You Is a Stray?

John:  What should a dog bite victim do if they aren’t sure who owns the dog that attacked?

Robert:  This can be a very difficult and challenging situation. Sometimes we’ve seen people walking in their town and the dog is loose and does an attack and then the dog takes off. The first and foremost issue obviously is to seek medical attention, but if possible, snap a picture of the dog.

Certainly go to the local police department or contact the local police department to explain what happened, to explain as best as possible what the dog looked like. It’s possible this is [a dangerous dog] that’s known to the local authorities.

We’ve seen people who have been bitten go back to the scene at a later date to see if possibly the dog could return or perhaps the owner returns with the dog.

John:  Maybe they stay in that certain area.

Robert:  It’s possible but, certainly it’s a very difficult situation if a person is been bitten or attacked by a dog and then there is no identification for the owner or who the keeper of the dog is.

Will a Dog Bite Victim Need a Rabies Shot If Records Can’t Be Verified?

John:  If you can’t find the dog, does that mean that rabies shots might be necessary, if the dog’s owner can’t be located?

Robert:  Those are challenging situations if you’ve been bitten by a dog, and certainly you need to go seek medical attention. If you cannot identify that animal, the hospital or the doctor is going to have to administer the rabies situation just out of precaution.

John:  Right, right. Because there’s no way to know and you can’t wait until you start to see the symptoms, [because then] it’s too late.

Robert:  That’s absolutely correct.

Can a Dog Bite Claim Be Brought Forward if You Don’t Know the Owner?

John:  Is it possible to bring forward a claim then if the owner of the dog remains unknown? How does that happen?

Kevin:  Unfortunately, John it is not possible to bring a claim if you do not know who the dog owner or the dog keeper was. That is something to keep in mind knowing that in Massachusetts, you not only have an action against the dog owner, but also the keeper of the dog.

So as Robert had mentioned, if you’re in the unfortunate situation of a dog bite or a dog attack, to the extent that you can, try to obtain any witness information from anybody that anybody that may have been present.

That person may know who the dog belongs to, who the dog owner was, or may have seen the dog with someone a few moments ago and be able to provide a description to the responding police officer.

So be extremely mindful of any witnesses on the scene, and if you have the ability, take a picture of the dog itself or of any people near the dog to show to the police.

Sometimes dogs get lost and you’ll see a picture of a dog owner on the telephone pole, and if you do a proper investigation and you get lucky, you may find or track down that dog owner or that dog keeper. But in Massachusetts, if you don’t know who that dog owner or dog keeper was, you do not have the ability to present the claim.

Who Pays for the Medical Bills If You Don’t Know the Owner of the Dog That Bit You?

John:  If I end up with a lot of medical bills because of a dog bite and I don’t know that dog and I can’t find them, do I have any kind of ability to pay for my bills? Is it just my medical insurance that’s going to cover that?

Robert:  That’s correct John. In that situation, if you do have private health insurance, they would process medical bills according to your health plan. You would be subject to those core pays or deductibles and those would come out of pocket to you.

If you do not have health insurance, when you’re getting the medical treatment at the hospital or medical provider’s office, you should make some inquiries in regards to free care or signing up for mass health, things of that nature.

If you are in a situation like that, you don’t have any dog information and you do not have health insurance, communicate that to the medical staff and let them know. They will do what they can to try to help you to mitigate those medical bills or find a source to try to help pay them for you.

John:  All right. That’s really great advice. Robert and Kevin, Thank you for speaking with me today.

Robert:  Thank you John.

Kevin:  Thank you, John.

John:  For more information on dog bite cases or other, personal injury case, visit the firm’s website at helpinginjured.com or call 855-693-9084.

Common Injuries From Dog Bites

Injuries from dog bites can be severe and in some cases, even deadly. This is particularly true when a dog bites a child. Here are the most common injuries that are seen after a dog attack, and what to do if you or a loved one suffered injuries from a dog bite.

John Maher:  Hi, I’m John Maher. Today, I’m here with Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough of the law firm of Mazow | McCullough, a personal injury law firm with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Robert and Kevin have a great deal of experience as dog bite attorneys. Today, we are going to be talking about “Common injuries from dog bites.”

Robert and Kevin, welcome.

Robert Mazow:  Thank you, John.

Kevin McCullough:  Thank you, John.

What Are the Most Common Injuries from Dog Bites?

John:  So, what are the most common injuries that you see caused by a dog attack?

Kevin:  In our practice, based upon the size of the dog and the size of the victim, every dog bite and every dog attack is different, because it’s an animal, a vicious animal potentially. The most common types of injuries we see are puncture wounds to the skin, or a tearing or ripping of the skin.

Every dog bite is different for a number of different reasons, but those are probably the two most common types of injuries that we see.

Robert:  I think that we tend to see also a lot of facial injuries in younger people. That’s not to say that they don’t happen in adults as well. We see a lot of lower arm and hand injuries either for the person going to pet the dog or fending off the dog’s attack.

We see some lower leg injuries from people who are running down a path, and a dog might come on and bite them in the leg.

So, those are the injuries we tend to see. Kevin’s right, they’re either in the form of a puncture wound or actually deep tissue damage.

Why Are Dog Bites Dangerous?

John:  What is it that makes dog bites so dangerous?

Robert:  Well, first of all, you don’t know who the dog is and it’s a strange [and possibly dangerous dog]. You don’t know if the dog is sick. You don’t know if the dog has rabies, it’s a very serious situation. So, obviously that’s a problem.

If the dog is up to date on its shots, what you’re seeing is permanent damage to the skin. There’s not a dog bite that we’ve seen that hasn’t had some long lasting, if not permanent, damage. If a person gets bit in the face, it requires a significant amount of stitching. That’s permanent.

John:  It’s going to leave a scar.

Robert:  It’s going to leave a scar and there’s not a plastic surgeon in the world that can make that scar completely disappear. So, you get bit in the face, you get bit in hand, you get bit the leg; it’s going to be there.

Kevin:  To add to that, I think the reason why dog bites are so dangerous is the different levels of skin that can be impacted depending upon the size of the dog or the size of the victim as I had mentioned.

We typically see tearing, internal tearing and ripping of muscle, tendons and ligaments, which is gruesome to talk about, but it’s the reality of a dog bite and a dog attack. So, that’s a very dangerous part of the dog bite, but also infection.

Robert mentioned rabies, that’s something to keep an eye on, it could ultimately lead to horrific pain and suffering to go through that treatment and to deal with that and could ultimately lead to fatality, to death.

Diseases from Dog Bites

John:  Are there other diseases that can be communicated from dogs as well?

Kevin:  Depending upon whether or not the dog has been raised on a home or if it is a wild dog, certainly any possible diseases could be carried by the dog. It’s extremely important to get treated at the hospital. If you don’t have any information about the dog and whether or not it’s up to date on its shots, [you need to] start that process for the procedure for rabies.

Doctors and medical staff all know what other potential things to treat for, but rabies is something that spreads from the dog’s saliva. So, once it enters your body and your bloodstream, if it’s there, it’s going to do its job relatively quickly. So, you want to get the treatment earlier on.

Cosmetic Concerns from Dog Bites

Robert:  I just want to go back to the scarring for just one moment. This is not the kind of scar you’re going to get from a surgical procedure or if you fall down and cut yourself on a piece of glass or something.

Some of these dogs, when their jaw gets into your skin, they are going to leave a jagged and ugly scar that a surgeon can sew up as best as possible, but it’s not going to be a clean scar.

John:  When a surgeon makes a cut [with a scalpel], it’s a nice, straight, clean cut and they are able to stitch that together very, very well so that you can almost not even see that scar at all. They can really fix that up well.

When there is this ripping and tearing, like you were saying Kevin, it’s a totally different thing. You can’t stitch those up and make the pieces of the skin come back together nice and smoothly.

Robert:  That’s right. We’ve seen our clients go to the best surgeons in Massachusetts here, we’ve the best surgeon in the world and they do a magnificent job, but we’ve seen some scars that just, when a dog gets ahold of a person’s cheek and face there’s a bad jagged scar that’s left.

John:  Right. In addition to just that, the skin layers like you said, they get damaged, Kevin you mentioned the ripping and tearing of muscles and ligaments. We are probably looking at rehab and things like that, that people have to go through in order to recover from an injury like that.

Kevin:  Extensive rehabilitation. We talk about ripping and tearing of skin and whether it’s an arm or leg and the treatment that’s needed for that.

As we’ve talked about a dog bite to the face, or tearing of the lips of your mouth or your cheek and the physical deformity of the appearance on the outside. In the inside, that’s something that will impact your ability to eat food, to drink hot or cold beverages and to speak. Clients sometimes have difficulty drinking from a soda bottle because of the sensitivity to the lips or the inability to feel the paralysis, if you will, in the lips.

The deformity on the inside, you are reminded of that every day, whether it’s biting and chewing or if your tongue rubs up against that deformity on the inside. These are very serious damages and they need to be presented to the liable party, the dog owner and the insurance party, in a way that encompasses all of those different potential damages and future damages.

What Happens When a Dog Bite Isn’t Treated Right Away?

John:  Right. You mentioned obviously seeking medical attention right away. What can happen if a dog bite isn’t treated right away?

Robert:  Infections are certainly something to be worried about. If you’ve got a deep open wound, you have got to get that cleaned, irrigated, and closed up. You need to get on medication to make sure that you are not going to get an infection.

Certainly, if there is no indication that the dog has been up to date in shots, you need to get the rabies treatment started right away. There’s is just no safe reason to delay seeking medical treatment if you’ve been bit by a dog.

How to Keep Injuries from Dog Bites from Getting Worse

John:  How can a dog bite victim make sure that their injuries don’t get any worse?

Robert:  Obviously, be paying attention to the scar. So, you’ve gone to the hospital, you’ve gotten yourself stitched up, you are on medication. You need to finish that round of antibiotics. You just finish that round of whatever prescription the doctor [has prescribed.] Do not stop halfway through, because that is a sure way to get an infection. You’ll be back in the hospital and spending some time there.

Kevin:  As far as taking care of the wounds, making sure that you do what the doctors tell you, whether it’s changing the dressing on the wounds, or using particular ointments or creams that can be added.

It’s pretty obvious with a severe dog bite that you need to do to take of yourself. It’s one of the ones that are not severe, if it’s a nip, if it’s a couple of poke marks on the arms or the leg, we’ll get calls from people a few weeks later or a month later where in their mind it started out as not that big of a deal.

But because of the lack of medical treatment, a simple wound has turned into something that’s either infected or it’s not healing properly because they didn’t get the care that they need. The scarring is going to be there now forever because of that lack of treatment or the failure to go in and get the medical advice or the medical opinions.

John:  Does that then affect the claim that you are making, against the dog owner in terms of can the dog owner say, “Well, it’s their fault they didn’t follow up on their treatment,” or “They didn’t probably take care of themselves?”

Robert:  Absolutely. There is something called mitigating your damages. In other words, if you got harmed and you choose not to get treatment and that harm gets worse, that’s on you.

You’re going to hear that absolutely as a defense to when it comes time to try to resolve this case. You need to mitigate your damages, you need to get the treatment that you need to get this taken care of.

John:  All right. That’s great advice Robert and Kevin. Thanks for speaking with me today.

Kevin:  Thank you John.

Robert:  Thank you.

John:  For more information on dog bite cases or other personal injury cases visit the firm’s website at helpinginjured.com or call 855 693 9084.

Common Treatments for Dog Bites

Dog bites can be severe and sometimes deadly, depending on where the location of the bite is and if infection sets in. Medical treatment is key to preventing immediate and long term problems. Here are the most common treatments for dog bites and what to do if you or a loved one were bitten by a dog.

John Maher:  Hi, I’m John Maher. Today, I’m here with Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough of the law firm of Mazow | McCullough, a personal injury law firm at the offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Robert and Kevin have a great deal of experience as dog bite attorneys. Today, we’re going to be talking about common treatments for dog bites. Robert and Kevin welcome.

Robert Mazow:  Thank you, John.

Kevin McCullough:  Thank you, John.

Common Treatments for Minor Dog Bites

John:  What are some of the most common treatments that are used for minor dog bites?

Robert:  Minor dog bites don’t necessarily require extensive treatment. If your skin is punctured and a dog’s teeth gets into your skin, you do need to seek legitimate medical attention to make sure that there’s nothing that’s going to get into your blood stream.

If the dog is up to date on his shots, you may not require additional treatment. More likely than not, if it’s a simple puncture wound from a dog, you’ll have one visit to your doctor’s office and one visit to the hospital, if necessary. Perhaps a butterfly stitch and an antibiotic. They tend not to require a significant amount of additional medical treatment.

Common Treatments for Severe Dog Bites

John:  Is surgery often required for more serious dog bites?

Kevin:  With more serious dog bite injuries, we typically see surgery, because of the types of wounds that are involved from the biting and tearing of the skin. Once a wound heals, a lot depends upon how the wound healed, or what part of the body was involved, and also the age of the dog victim, whether or not they’re going to continue to grow.

We see surgical procedures required with most dog bites, even if it’s minor, a puncture as Robert had mentioned, or just a single bite with some teeth marks. That may be something that, although there was limited medical treatment, where it is on the person’s body may warrant or require a surgical procedure.

Scar revision or plastic surgery to help the victim deal with that wound whether it’s emotionally, physically, and the appearance of that person. We typically see with dog bite incidents, follow up surgery or scar revision involved when necessary.

Robert:  A lot of it depends on where on the body it is, whether or not the person’s going to want surgery. When I say surgery, I mean plastic surgery, trying to fix the appearance of the scar.

If it’s on a young person’s face, a young woman’s face, it’s very likely that this person’s going to want to have revision surgery, to at least make the scar look presentable, something that they can live with. Something that they don’t have to, every time they look in the mirror, be upset about the trauma and relive the trauma.

How Medical Treatments for Dog Bites Affect a Court Case

John:  I was going to ask, how this affects a dog bite case if you’re going to court over this. You might be going to court fairly soon after a dog bite occurs, but you might not be fully done with all of these treatments, or maybe you don’t even decide until some months or even a year after the dog bite.

Jeez, “I have this scar, and I just can’t live with it. It’s affecting my life. I really need to go have some reconstructive surgery or whatever it is.” If that case is over, do you not have any recompense for that? How does that work?

Robert:  First of all, Kevin and I have been doing dog bite cases for 15 20 years. We tend to understand that we’re not going to be rushing to court, certainly not the trial, until we have a clear picture as to what the extent of the damages are.

For instance, the scarring that we’ve been talking about. We don’t even begin to think about trying to resolve a case with a scar, because we want to see that scar develop for, at least one year to see what the outcome is going to look like.

It doesn’t make any sense for anybody to be going to court within a few months after a dog bite that caused a scar because as you said, you don’t know what the extent of that’s going to look like. The first thing we do is we take a look and see what the final outcome of that scar is going to look like. If a person chooses to have surgery, we’ll at least know what the cost of that was.

If a person’s considering surgery, we’re going to get an opinion from an expert to give us an idea of what that surgery looks like, what the cost of that surgery’s going to be, whether there’s going to be any follow up treatment from that. If we’re going to present the case in court or to an insurance company, we’re going to have the full picture of what the present and the future looks like.

Neck and Face Injuries vs. Hand or Leg Injuries

John:  Is there any kind of protocol for when a dog bites a person’s face or neck that might be different from a bite on a hand or leg?

Kevin:  It really depends upon the extent of the severity of the bite. What we do see, in regards to the damages and the medical treatment required, a neck or a facial bite is close to a 100% requirement of plastic surgery. As Robert mentioned, where on the body is important to whether or not there’s plastic surgery.

John:  You might be able to deal with a little bit of a scar on your upper arm or some place that might be hidden by your clothes on a regular basis, but on your face where everybody can see that?

Kevin:  Definitely. There’s a sensitivity level there that everyone has. [It has a lot to do with] looking in a mirror every day, communicating with people, self confidence, and how you feel about it. If a bite or a scar is on the part of the body that can be hidden with clothing, people are less likely to want to have that surgery.

Factoring Future Surgeries into Dog Bite Cases

Kevin:  You had mentioned earlier the recompense once a case is closed. That’s absolutely right. Once a case is closed, there’s no way to re open it, so part of what we do in an analysis of a case is consider potential surgery as one of the components of damages.

When we present the claim to the insurance company, we have to factor in the surgeries that have already happened, but if a client may require surgery, but has just been unsure of whether or not they want to do that, that’s something that we factor into a case. It is a component of the damages that we have to present and be considerate of for the client.

John:  You have to be able to say, “The client is probably going to need two additional surgeries in order to correct this, and we have to factor that into the damages.”

Kevin:  Exactly. As far as the type of surgery and the number of surgeries, we rely upon medical experts for that. As far as the presentment of that, the gathering in the investigative phase of the case and presenting it properly for purposes of resolution, that is on us. We do make sure that we factor that into every case that we resolve for our clients.

Robert:  It’s not just surgery. If it is on a person’s face or something’s that exposed to the elements or the sun, part of the person’s damages are that they’re going to have to continue to cover it up with sunscreen, and be more vigilant to protect it from the sun and from the elements. It is important as to where on the body the bite occurs.

John:  That’s great information, Robert and Kevin. Thanks for speaking with me today.

Robert:  Thank you, John.

John:  For more information on dog bite cases or other personal injury cases, visit the firm’s website at helpinginjured.com or call 855 693 9084.

6 Factors That Increase the Risk of a Dog Bite

A dog bite can occur out of nowhere, when you least expect it. However, there are a few general indicators that a bite is more likely to happen, allowing you to plan accordingly. Here are a few things to keep a watchful eye on, and if you find yourself in a scenario where one or more of these warning signs are present, consider getting yourself or your children out of the situation as soon as possible.

1. A Male Dog That Is Unneutered

While female dogs can also bite, statistics show that males are more likely to do so. Statistics also show that if a male dog is unneutered, the likelihood that he will bite increases significantly. If your friends or family members have a male dog that hasn’t been neutered, politely ask if the dog can be contained while you are visiting. If you have purchased or adopted a male dog, make an appointment to be neutered as soon as possible.

2. A Dog That Is Without His Master In His Own Yard

Dogs are very territorial and are protective of that territory. If a dog is alone in his own yard, the chances of him biting someone who comes into his territory are high. Avoid coming into a dog’s own space, especially if his master is not present.

3. A Dog That Has Been Tethered

While keeping a family pet on a chain or tether seems unthinkable to many animal lovers, people still continue to do so. A dog that is left out on a rope can become aggressive, especially if the dog is tethered for a significant period of time. Steer clear of tethered dogs and if you have children, warn them to stay several feet away from dogs who are on a rope or chain.

4. Multiple Dogs

Never approach a pack of dogs, especially if you are unfamiliar. A pack of dogs can easily become aggressive and see a human — even an adult — as prey. Avoid a multiple dog attack by knowing where there are packs of dogs in your neighborhood and avoiding those places.

5. A Dog That Is a Certain Breed

Although many pet lovers fight against breed-specific legislation, the fact remains that statistics show that some breeds of dog are more likely to bite or attack than others. These breeds include but are not limited to pit bulls, rottweilers, chows, and akitas. If you have friends or family members with a dangerous breed of dog, ask that they be kept contained while you are visiting. Avoid adopting these breeds or bringing them into your home.

6. A Dog That Is New

Dogs that are in a new environment or are around new people can become anxious very quickly. Take precautions around new dogs and introduce yourself to them slowly. Avoid overwhelming a new dog, and if you’ve adopted a dog, introduce the dog to members of your family one by one. Take it slow and if the dog shows aggressive body language, get out of the situation as quickly as possible.

Although it may be possible to avoid a dog bite by steering clear of the above scenarios, people can still get attacked. If you or a loved one were bitten by a dog, don’t hesitate to consult with a Massachusetts dog bite attorney to learn more about your legal options. Call Mazow | McCullough P.C. today for a consultation at (855) 693-9084.

What Is Dog Laundering? (And How to Avoid It)

When you adopt a dog from a shelter or humane society, you expect that the dog has met basic criteria, meaning that it has not been shown to be aggressive and hasn’t bit or attacked anyone.

However, many shelters and humane societies engage in the practice of “dog laundering,” a term coined by an attorney who practices dog bite law exclusively, to describe when a dog’s history of aggression or attacking is covered up by the shelter and the dog is re-homed. Finding out that a dog you adopted and who bit you was aggressive in the past and you were not informed can be a shock and is a situation that warrants immediate action.

How can you prevent dog laundering and what should you do if you are bitten by a dog that you suspect has been laundered?

If a Dog Bites You, Be Honest

Returning a dog to the shelter from which you adopted it can be a challenging process. This is particularly true if the dog has bitten or attacked you. Returning a dog to the shelter can be emotionally distressing, especially if you had fallen in love with your new pet. However, the shelter itself can make the process even more difficult by treating you as though you are doing something wrong for returning a dog that has attacked you or a family member.

An unethical shelter or rescue group may ask you to sign a form that says the dog has never bitten anyone before or that you are returning the dog for reasons other than the attack. Never sign this form. Maintain that the dog did attack or bite you and do everything you can to ensure that the shelter is forced to record this information in their paperwork.

Consult an Attorney If You’re Bitten By a Dog You Think May Have Been Laundered

If you adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue group and are attacked, it is important to contact an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible. Although proving that the dog was indeed laundered may be difficult, it is important that the shelter be held accountable for the bite.

You’ll need help gathering the information necessary to show that the shelter or rescue group accepted a dog with a history of aggression, failed to document or covered up the report of that aggression, and re-homed the dog to you without disclosing the dog’s past. An attorney can assist you in putting together a case to not only ensure that the shelter is held responsible for the laundering, but to help you obtain financial compensation to cover expenses related to the attack like hospital bills and lost wages.

Call Mazow | McCullough, P.C. Today

Don’t wait after being bitten by a shelter dog to get legal help. We can assist you in gathering information that is important to your case and will aggressively advocate for your rights every step of the way. Call our experienced Massachusetts dog bite lawyers now for a consultation to discuss your legal needs at (855) 693-9084. We are available now to help you.

How To File an Insurance Claim for a Dog Bite in Massachusetts or New Hampshire

John Maher:  Hi, I’m John Maher, and today I’m here with Robert Mazow and Kevin McCullough, of the Law Firm of Mazow‑McCullough, a personal injury law firm, with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Robert and Kevin have a great deal of experience as dog bite attorneys, and today we’re going to be talking about how to file an insurance claim for a dog bite in Massachusetts or New Hampshire. Kevin and Robert, welcome.

Robert Mazow:  Thank you.

Kevin McCullough:  Thank you, John.

 

What Types of Insurance Will Cover a Dog Bite in Massachusetts

John:  In terms of insurance, what types of insurance cover dog bite incidents?

Kevin:  The type of insurance that comes into play for dog bite claims involves homeowner’s insurance coverage. You can also be a tenant in a property and have tenant’s coverage. We typically see homeowner’s insurance policies regarding dog bite claims.

John:  Is there a reason why it’s not as much in terms of landlords and things like that? Do people tend not to have pets when they’re in apartment buildings as much?

Kevin:  I think the part that really deters tenants from having dogs is the rental agreements that come into play. A lot of the tenants may live in multi‑complex facilities, and a lot of property owners just don’t want to have the headaches that come involved with dog owners, whether it’s cleaning up, dealing with other tenants, and dogs barking. We routinely see that with the homeowner’s side of things.

John:  OK.

Robert:  I think sometimes an issue that comes up with the tenants [is] that they don’t always tell the landlord that they might have a dog in the apartment or the building, which tends to lead to no homeowner’s insurance coverage applying, which can be an issue.

John:  How can a dog bite victim file an insurance claim for a dog bite?

Kevin:  The dog bite victim wants to make sure they gather as much information that they can regarding the dog itself, whether it’s a description of the dog, getting information from the leash, and also getting the information of the dog owner.

Sometimes, it may involve the handler of a dog, or someone who’s walking the dog, who may not be the actual owner. But it is very important in regards to presenting a claim to gather the information regarding the owner, the address, and if possible, the insurance information.

Robert:  Sometimes, I think the severity of the attack, or the bite, will lead to the police coming to the scene as well, and the police can gather the information. If the victim is, unfortunately, taken away by ambulance or has to go to the emergency room, they can later contact the police department or the animal control officer to get the information necessary to file a claim.

 

Should You Contact An Attorney Before Filing a Dog Bite Claim?

John:  Do you think it’s important that somebody contact an attorney before they file an insurance claim? Are there ways in which that you as an attorney can help somebody to file that claim?

Robert:  I think the answer depends. If it’s a minor injury that doesn’t require medical attention, then I wouldn’t suggest that an attorney is necessary.

However, the dog bite incidents that we tend to see have very severe injuries, severe consequences. In that case, I would highly recommend speaking to a knowledgeable attorney to be the liaison between yourself, the victim of the dog bite, and the insurance company. [This is] just to make sure that everything is done properly and that nobody is taken advantage of, and that medical bills are taken care of and that any payment for scarring or permanent disability is covered.

 

Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims in Massachusetts and New Hampshire

John:  Is there a statute of limitations on a dog bite claim in Massachusetts or in New Hampshire? We should say that a statute of limitations is how long after the incident occurs before you’re no longer able to bring a case up regarding that incident? Is that correct?

Kevin:  That’s correct. The statute of limitations acts as a legal bar, protecting defendants or dog owners, and it requires that a claim be either settled or filed at the courts within a certain time frame. In Massachusetts, the statute of limitations for dog bite claims is three years.

However, there is an exception to that for minors, [or] people who are under 18 years of age. The statute of limitations for dog bite claims for a minor doesn’t actually start to run until their 18th birthday. In that situation it would be three years from the 18th birthday.

The law is very similar in New Hampshire in that the statute of limitations is three years, with the same exception for minors.

Minors and Dog Bite Claims

John:  Would that mean that [if] you were a minor and you were injured in a dog bite incident, but your parents never brought that case to court, when you turn 18, would you then be able to turn around and file a claim?

Kevin:  That’s a great question, John, and something that we have run into in the past. Yes, in fact, if a child suffers a dog bite or a dog attack, and maybe the parents [didn’t file a claim because they] were friendly with the dog owner or maybe they were tenants at a particular property and didn’t want to disrupt what was going on around them. In that situation, definitely, the person who [was bitten] would have the ability to present a claim for up to three years after their 18th birthday.

What to Do If the Owner of the Dog Who Bit You Does Not Have Insurance

John:  When you’re filing a claim for insurance, obviously, you’re trying to get the dog owner to have their insurance compensate you for your injuries, your medical expenses, et cetera. What should a dog bite victim do if the dog’s owner does not have insurance?

Kevin:  One of the things that we think separates us from other attorneys is trying to gather information to see if there are other potential defendants. Oftentimes, the dog or dog owner may be at someone else’s property at the time of the attack.

They may be at a public event at the time of the bite or the attack. Taking a step back, you want to make sure when you’re evaluating a claim as an attorney and helping a victim of a dog bite or dog attack that you find out and gather as much information as you can to see if, in fact, other people may be responsible.

The best example of that is someone who is in charge of walking the dog, a dog walker. That may be a business, an actual corporate entity, or it could just be a local neighbor or someone walking the dog who may have their own insurance and they may take on the responsibility of that incident.

That’s the first step in evaluating whether or not there is coverage. Ultimately, if you determine there is no insurance coverage to go after, it can be tricky, but you still want to find out as much information as you can.

Again, as Robert mentioned earlier, depending upon the severity of the injury, whether or not that dog owner, or that handler, has any assets to pursue or other coverage that may be available to help pay medical bills [and] lost wages, or help compensate the dog victim.

Robert:  There are just two important points that I want to try and hone what Kevin said. The statue in Massachusetts is not just limited to the dog owner. If the dog owner does not have insurance coverage, but they’re having their son take the dog for a walk, and the son has his own homeowner’s coverage, and during the time that the son has control of the dog, the son’s homeowner’s policy could come into play.

It’s not just the owner. It’s the keeper. I think people sometimes miss that nuance in the statue that if a keeper of the dog has control of the dog at the time of the incident, then they are responsible. It could be a groomer, or dog daycare, or just a neighbor walking the dog.

The legislature wants to make sure that people are protected, and that’s why they’ve added the language for adding the keeper.

The other issue is that if a person doesn’t have homeowner’s coverage, that doesn’t prevent you from making a claim. Ultimately, it is the dog owner or keeper that is responsible, and you are entitled to seek compensation directly from them if they happen to have assets that are recoverable.

John:  All right, really great information, Kevin and Robert. Thanks very much for speaking with me.

Robert:  Thank you.

John:  For more information on dog bite cases, or other personal injury cases, visit the firm’s website, at helpinginjured.com, or call 855‑693‑9084

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