Dogs are often called "man's best friend" because they are loyal and devoted to the people who care for them. However, when dogs don't receive proper training, get abused or neglected or have issues unknown to their owners, they can pose a serious risk to the public. Even an otherwise friendly and sweet dog can snap without any notice, attacking and biting humans, often with serious medical consequences.
The state of Ohio has very clear laws about dog bites and liability. Whether or not the dog has bitten anyone before, the owner is liable for any provable injuries and losses that result from the attack. That's a good policy, because dog bites can actually cause a lot of financial issues and medical damage to the victim.
Dog bites can cause serious, life-threatening injuries
Dogs of any breed and size can do serious harm when they bite. While small and toy breeds are often called "ankle biters," their bites can still send victims to the ER for stitches. Your ankles have tendons to help you walk and maintain balance. A dog can damage or even sever those critical bands, leaving you with compromised mobility.
Dog bites often provoke defensive actions by the victim, such as trying to fend off the animal using the arms and hands. That can be a major mistake, because your hands contain so many bones, muscles and connective tissues. Dog bites to the hands can impact your manual dexterity and strength. They can leave you unable to carry out your work duties.
Dog bites to the face and neck can be fatal. These injuries can result in a lot of blood loss. They can damage your eyes, leaving you with impaired vision. Dog bites can also leave behind disfiguring scars that impact your sense of self-worth as well as your social life. Reconstructive plastic surgery may be necessary after a particularly vicious attack.
If a dog attacks a small child, the damage can be even worse. Injured children may require corrective surgeries every few years until adulthood because their bodies continue to grow. It's easy to see how these expenses can accrue over time.
When you add up the bills for medical expenses, physical and occupational therapies and counseling to address trauma and fear resulting from the attack, it can wipe out a family's budget.
Insurance and lawsuits can help you recover your losses
As medical expenses associated with dog bites can be extensive, victims often need to seek compensation after an attack. The good news is that there are usually several options available. In some situations, the victim's medical bills can be covered by the dog owner's homeowner's or renter's insurance policies. It should be noted, however, that this coverage may have caps that prevent you from recovering all of your losses.
If costs exceed policy coverage, the owner did not have a policy or the dog's breed violated the terms of the insurance policy, you may need to consider a civil lawsuit against the animal's owner.