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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.