Category Archives: Dog Bites

Who is Liable in my Dog Bite Injury Case?

As the weather becomes warmer, dogs and children alike will spend more time outside playing in their yards. Once school lets out for summer, children will be playing outside for far longer hours each day, often putting them into contact with dogs that can potentially bite and cause injuries.

When a dog bite results in an injury, the victim may seek compensation for his or her damages through a personal injury claim. A victim can only recover compensation if another party is liable for his or her damages. In a dog bite, the liable party is not always obvious. Dog bites are not like other types of injury case in that the doctrine of strict liability applies.

Strict Liability in Dog Bite Cases

Strict liability means that when a dog bite occurs, the dog’s owner is liable for the victim’s damages regardless of whether he or she acted in a negligent or intentionally harmful manner. It is important to note, though, that this does not mean that the dog’s owner is liable in all cases. There are circumstances under which a dog’s owner’s liability is waived.

Wisconsin’s dog bite law states that if a dog’s owner knew about the dog’s aggressive tendencies before the bite occurred and the bite broke the skin and causes permanent scarring or disfigurement, the owner may be required to compensate the victim twice the dollar amount of his or her damages. Knowledge of a dog’s aggressive tendencies is defined as knowing that the dog had previously bitten a victim and broken the skin to cause scarring or disfigurement.

A victim may file an action to have the dog euthanized. Generally, the court will agree to have a dog put down if both of the following circumstances apply:

  • The dog caused severe injuries on two or more occasions without reason, such as provocation; and
  • The dog’s owner knew that his or her dog caused the first injury before the second injury occurred.

What if a Dog is Provoked into Biting a Victim?

This is the scenario under which a dog owner’s liability for the victim’s damages are waived. If a dog is provoked into biting a victim, the victim might not be able to recover compensation for his or her damages or his or her compensation package may be reduced. Provocation can include teasing a dog, chasing or cornering the dog, or striking the dog with an object or projectile, such as a BB pellet.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Dog Bite Lawyer

Sadly, avoiding dog bites in Wisconsin is not always possible. If you or your child is bitten by a dog, seek medical attention for the bite as soon as possible to ensure that it is cleaned and treated properly. Left untreated, a dog bite can become infected, which can have severe complications for a victim. After receiving treatment for the bite, contact the experienced Appleton personal injury lawyers on our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC to schedule your initial consultation in our office.

How Should I Handle a Dog Bite?

After dog bites, safety first—and then action

Do you know what to do after being bitten by a dog? Taking the appropriate steps to handle your injury can mean the difference between a manageable recovery and serious medical complications. Worse, your actions could impact your quest to secure compensation for the injury and inconvenience. If you’re bitten by a dog under any circumstances, keep these important tips in mind in the subsequent hours and days.

Medical Bills

This may be your most pressing concern in the aftermath of a dog bite. Dog bites can produce medical bills for surgeries, long hospitalizations, expensive medications, and other costly line items. Often, these bills come from multiple providers and may be difficult to track in real time. By working with an experienced attorney, you can ensure that you secure compensation for all of the attendant medical bills that your injury produces.

Lost Income

If your dog bite results in a significant layoff from work, you could be entitled to compensation for lost income. An attorney can help you calculate a fair value for your lost productivity, including the long-term economic cost of an injury that renders you unable to perform your pre-injury job duties.

Pain and Suffering

If your injury causes substantial pain and suffering, you could be entitled to this special type of compensation that accounts for your mental and physical discomfort. It’s important to retain an experienced attorney to advocate on your behalf.

Loss of Services

It might sound almost scandalous, but “loss of services” is a very real concept. In certain jurisdictions, it’s possible to sue the owner or caretaker of a dog in the event that the bite rendered the victim incapable of providing companionship or intimacy to his or her spouse. These awards can be substantial.

Punitive Damages

If you can prove that your dog bite was the result of willful negligence or malice, you may be entitled to punitive damages that can significantly increase your total compensation. Also, keep in mind that Wisconsin law states that a victim of a dog bite is entitled to double damages if the dog has bitten someone before. However, it’s difficult to argue for punitive damages without the assistance of an attorney.

Find a Personal Injury Lawyer with Dog Bite Experience in Neenah and Appleton, WI

We sincerely hope that you’ll never have to deal with a rampaging dog or the aftermath of an encounter with one. However, there are plenty of dogs in the world. Occasionally, out-of-control animals cause serious problems for innocent bystanders. To learn more about your legal options in the aftermath of a dog bite, give us a call at (920) 720-0000 or fill out our online contact form at your convenience.