If you were attacked by a dog but not bitten, you likely still suffered injuries from the incident. Even if you were not seriously physically harmed, you may suffer from emotional damages like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Can you sue the owner for a non-bite dog attack? Here’s what to know and how veteran New Hampshire and Massachusetts dog bite attorneys can assist you.
Physical Damages From a Non-Bite Dog Attack
There are many more injuries that can occur during a dog attack that aren’t bites. Dog claws are thick and sharp, often tearing at or slicing the skin it comes into contact with. This can leave disfiguring scars, especially if the dog claw’s the victims face, neck, or arms.
Emotional Damages From a Non-Bite Attack
Being attacked by a dog is a frightening experience and the more severe the attack, the higher the chance is for the victim to incur emotional distress from the incident. However, physical and emotional damages don’t always correlate to each other. A dog attack victim that didn’t suffer severe physical injury may still be highly emotionally impacted by the event. They may need therapy for months or even years.
For example, say a dog cornered a victim and blocked their path of escape for the better part of an hour before anyone was able to provide assistance. The terror and fear that the victim felt during the standoff may be compensable if the victim developed mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, OCD, or PTSD following the attack.
In some cases, a dog attack may involve damage to personal property. Expensive clothes, purses, and heirloom jewelry may become torn during or broken during the attack. Vehicle exteriors may suffer damage from dog scratches.
If a dog owner can be proven to be egregiously negligent in their care and/or supervision of the dog, resulting in the attack, punitive damages may be awarded. The term “punitive” means “punishment,” and these damages are intended to penalize the dog’s owner for extreme carelessness.
For example, if the dog owner was determined to have a dog fighting ring in which the dog participated or was purposely taught to be violent, the owner would be more likely to face punitive damages. Or, say the owner was well-informed about the dog being a menace to the neighborhood but continued to purposely let the dog out in the mornings when children were walking to school.
In these cases, the plaintiff’s attorney will potentially want to petition the court to award additional damages that correlate to the level of negligence displayed by the defendant.
How to Quantify Damages From a Dog Attack
Quantifying the damages from a dog attack can be challenging, especially if the attack didn’t involve a bite or result in significant medical expenses. Tallying the cost of destroyed property and emotional damages requires the skill of an experienced personal injury attorney.
Usually, the attorney will use a mathematical formula that multiples the amount of pain and suffering incurred by the victim by the amount of economic damages. Economic damages are the total financial damages incurred by the victim of the attack, including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc. Then, this number is multiplied by a number between 1.5 to 5 depending on the severity of pain and suffering the victim has endured.
For example, a personal injury attorney may only use a multiplier of 1.5 for a non-bite dog attack that caused minimal psychological distress. However, that same attorney may use a multiplier of 5 for a non-bite dog attack that resulted in extreme, permanent facial scarring and disfiguration from the dog’s thick, sharp claws. A multiplier of 3 may be used in an instance where the patient suffered physical injuries that are expected to heal without scarring or another scenario where the patient was seriously harmed but should fully recover.
How the Experienced Dog Bite Lawyers At Mazow McCullough, PC Can Help
If you were bitten by a dog, you’re likely frightened, angry, and unsure of what you should do next. If you were attacked but not bitten, you may wonder if you even still have a claim.
Mazow | McCullough, PC is one of the top dog bite law firms in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and can provide you with the legal guidance you need after a vicious dog attack. Contact us at (978) 744-8000 or toll-free at (855) 693-9084 to learn more about dog bite law, book your consultation appointment, or get answers to your questions about pursuing a dog bite claim.