Dog owners and handlers must control their animals at all times to keep other people safe. Sadly, sometimes they shirk their responsibilities, leading to innocent people suffering dog bites and other injuries.
If an animal attack injured you or a loved one, a Dayton dog bite attorney could help you get compensation. You deserve to be reimbursed for your expenses as well as the emotional trauma you experienced. Immediate action yields better results, so do not hesitate to seek legal advice from a skilled attorney at O’Connor, Acciani & Levy.
Responsibility of Dog Owners and Handlers
Any dog could cause severe injuries. Children are especially vulnerable to dog attacks, as they may not understand how to approach the animals in a non-threatening way. Additionally, a child’s shorter stature makes it easier for a dog to attack their head or face, causing severe damage.
Because of these risks, Ohio law makes the owner or handler of a dog responsible for keeping it under control at all times. Ohio Revised Code § 955.28 imposes strict liability on owners and handlers for any bodily injuries or property damage their animal causes. Even if a dog injured someone by accidentally knocking them down, the owner and handler still could be liable.
A dog attack victim need not prove that anyone was negligent. They need to prove only that the particular dog caused specific physical injuries, emotional trauma, or property damage. An experienced attorney at our firm could help injured Dayton residents prove this in a dog bite claim.
Steps to Take after a Canine Attack in Dayton
After a bite or other incident involving a dog, a victim should attempt to collect critical evidence that could be important in a victim’s effort to collect damages. The most important is a picture or other identification of the dog, and the identity of its owner or the person handling it at the time of the confrontation. The contact information of any witnesses also could be useful.
The injured person should also seek medical attention, even if the injuries do not seem severe at first. Soft tissue damage is common in bite injuries, and infection is a real threat. Securing medical treatment immediately not only helps prevent serious complications but also serves as proof of the injury. Failure to seek medical treatment leaves a victim open to accusations that their injuries are not real or were sustained in some other way.
Contacting a skilled local attorney as soon as possible is another essential step to take after a dog attack. The dog owner’s insurance company will likely contact the injured victim shortly after the incident. Injured people should protect their rights by refusing to speak with the insurance company and instead referring the caller to their dog bite attorney.
Damages Available in Dog Bite Cases
Damages compensate an injured person for the losses they suffered due to their injuries. In a dog attack case, these could include:
- Medical costs
- Incidental expenses associated with getting treatment
- Household services the injured person was unable to perform during their recovery
- Therapy or counseling to deal with emotional trauma the attack caused
- Missed time at work
- Future healthcare costs if the injury requires ongoing medical intervention or monitoring
- Lost earnings if the injury will prevent the victim from returning to their prior employment
A person who suffered a dog attack also could seek damages for their physical pain, emotional anguish, and other impacts on their quality of life. A loved one who witnessed the attack could seek damages for their emotional distress.
Punitive Damages for Dog Owner Negligence
If the dog has bitten before or if the attack caused severe physical injuries, an experienced attorney might advise a victim to pursue a negligence claim. Although proving negligence might be more difficult than pursuing compensation under the strict liability statute, a severely injured victim who can prove negligence could seek punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.
Punitive damages are meant to deter egregious behavior by punishing a defendant. Ohio law sets punitive damages at no more than twice the compensatory damages, and there is a cap of $350,000 for punitive damages. A seasoned lawyer at O’Connor, Acciani & Levy could advise on whether to pursue this option depending on the facts of the dog bite case.
Contact a Seasoned Dog Bite Attorney after an Attack
If a dog has injured you or your loved one, you have only two years to bring a lawsuit against the owner or handler. The threat of a lawsuit could spur insurance companies to offer a fair settlement, so it is important for dog attack victims to keep this deadline in mind.
Give yourself the best chances of a successful case by working with a Dayton dog bite lawyer. Call O’Connor, Acciani & Levy and learn more about how we can help you seek justice for your injuries.