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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.