An Overview of Dog Bite Attack Injuries and Harm

Injuries suffered in dog bite attacks can be devastating and, in some cases, even permanent.  People who suffer through the terrifying experience of a dog bite attack or harm from dog bite injuries, face a long and difficult road to recovery, a full recovery is even possible.  While the vast majority of people in the United States love dogs and no one ever wants to see dogs and humans clash, the bottom line is that these attacks do happen.  When they do, the people who are harmed need to be able to recover damages in order for the interests of justice to be served.  This where we come in to help.

One way to help those who have been harmed put the situation into perspective is to provide some information regarding dog bite attack injuries and other forms of harm.  Below you’ll find an overview of some of the injuries that can result from such an attack.  If you or someone you love has been injured in this manner, contact John Michael Montevideo at the Dog Bite Law Group today to schedule a free consultation.

Examples of Injuries Suffered in Dog Bite Attacks

Almost any type of injury is possible in a dog bite attack, but given that dogs tend to attack with their teeth and they tend to target the face, head, hands, arms and legs of the person being attacked, facial injuries are extremely common.  Other examples of common injuries include:

  • Scaring from bites/Laceration/Cuts
  • Nerve damage to bite area
  • Crush injuries to bones
  • Infection of the bite wound or wounds (including Rabies, Capnocytophaga, Pasteurella, MRSA, Tetanus)
  • Fracture/ Broken Bones / Dislocation
  • Loss of eye(s) and/or limbs
  • Tendon damage
  • Head Trauma
  • Back Injury such as herniated discs Muscle sprains and strains
  • Puncture wounds
  • Permanent scarring
  • Disfigurement
  • Amputation/ Avulsion/ Crush
  • Soft tissue damage
  • Severe emotional distress
  • Post-traumatic stress

Many of the injuries listed above can be permanently disfiguring, and the emotional injuries that can result from a dog bite attack can also last a lifetime.  In addition, severe infection to the bite wound can lead to permanent complications or even death.

Treatment for Dog Bite Attack Injuries

Seek medical treatment as soon as possible.  First, doctors and/or medical personnel will deal with the immediate “life or death” risks of a dog bite injury. Second, they concern themselves with other forms of repair and healing such as scarring, physical therapy and surgery.  The treatments for different dog bite attack injuries are nearly as varied as the type of injuries that a person can suffer in such a terrifying incident.    However, a typical initial progression of treatment for dog bite injuries includes:

  1. Thoroughly cleaning the wound(s) to minimize the chance of infection;
  2. Seeing a doctor and/or medical professional;
  3. Determining when the patient last had a tetanus shot so one can be administered, if necessary;
  4. Determining if a preventative rabies vaccination is necessary;
  5. Performing imaging such as X-rays, MRIs or CT-scans to better evaluate injuries;
  6. Setting any broken bones and applying a cast for healing;
  7. Performing surgery such as orthopedic and/or cosmetic treatment and surgery;
  8. Determining if physical therapy (PT), future surgery and/or treatment will be necessary; and
  9. Evaluation of psychological needs and PTSD impact

Treating dog bite attack injuries can take hours, weeks or months, and that doesn’t even guarantee that the patient will ever achieve a full physical recovery.

Scarring from Dog Bite Attacks

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons released a report that stated that in 2015, approximately 28,000 people in the United States needed some form of reconstructive surgery after being involved in a dog bite attack.  It’s possible that many or even most of those people were left with some level of scarring on their bodies.  Given that a large number of dogs attack a person’s facial area first, these scarring injuries could be disfiguring.  In addition to disfiguring, scars can also be extremely painful.

There are several potential treatments for scarring, and each patient will likely face a different protocol.  Examples of approaches used include:

  • Over-the-counter products to lighten the scarred tissue
  • Prescription ointments and topical creams
  • Surgical treatment or removal
  • Skin grafting
  • Photorejuvenation (IPL – Intense Pulsed Light) laser treatments
  • Dermabrasion
  • Steroid injections
  • Radiotherapy
  • Cryotherapy (Using liquid nitrogen as a freezing therapy)
  • Filler injections

Are There Different Types of Scars?

Yes, below are several different types of scarring:

  • Keloid scars – These scars result from when the skin goes through a process of aggressive healing. They are bigger and can exacerbate the original injury, limiting movement.
  • Contracture scars – These scars result when you have suffered a burn type injury.  Contracture scars can hamper your movement ability because it makes skin tighter and may also impact nerves and muscles.
  • Hypertrophic scars – These scars are raised and elevated because extra tissue grows over openings in the skin caused by wounds and infections. They are normally red in color too.
  • Atrophic Scars – These scars are either serrated, depressed or flat on the upper layer of skin. Occasionally atrophic scars are known as hyperpigmentation or discoloration of the skin caused by tissue damage.

Regardless of the approach, a person who has suffered scarring from a dog bite attack faces a difficult road to recovery and likely a significant impact on their daily life.

Dog Bite Attacks and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

People typically associate PTSD with situations that include military combat or some other extreme event.  However, anyone who has suffered a traumatic event can develop PTSD.  This is a very serious and dangerous condition, and it can take months if not years to treat.  Some patients never recover from it.  Some survivors of dog bite attacks suffer from PTSD.

PTSD is, generally speaking, a condition whereby a person’s mental cognition changes due to a traumatic event.  Symptoms of PTSD can include:

  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Severe anxiety
  • Uncontrollable thoughts regarding the incident
  • Irrational perceptions of danger

Treating PTSD is an extremely difficult process.  There are several different forms of therapy that are available, but is typically unique to each patient’s experience.  With regards to dog bite attacks, PTSD can lead to an extreme fear of dogs and/or going outside.  This could lead to isolation such as avoidance of people, even loved ones, with dogs or even leaving one’s home.

Parents of Children Injured by Dog Bites – Some Tips

Unfortunately, children are highly vulnerable to dog bite attacks.  According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the age group of children with the highest incidence of dog bites is between 5 and 9 years old.  As such, thousands of parents in California every year are forced to manage the aftermath of dog bite attacks on their children.  Below is a brief list of suggestions for dealing with this difficult situation.

  1. Get medical treatment as soon as possible;
  2. Follow the doctor’s instructions;
  3. Watch for any redness, swelling or other unsightly problems at or near the wound site;
  4. Take a child’s complaint of pain seriously, even if the wound has healed;
  5. Find a mental health professional if your child needs help overcoming fear or stress;
  6. Find ways to reassure your child that they’re not in constant danger of a dog bite attack;
  7. Discuss the safest ways to be around dogs; and
  8. File necessary insurance claims promptly (get help from an lawyer).

Finally, make sure that you speak to a California dog bite attorney as soon as possible when you have an occurrence of harm from dog bite injuries.  Doing so can help you avoid mistakes with the insurance process that can harm your overall position.

Children can suffer silently in many ways, and if a child has been disfigured in a dog attack or if he or she continues to suffer emotionally, that child could face social difficulties in the form of bullying or ostracization.  That child may also need ongoing help in dealing with these problems and future surgery, treatment and care.  A legal claim can help pay for the needed care (i.e. plastic surgery) your child may need in the future.

How California Dog Bite Lawyers Can Help

Injuries suffered in a dog bite attack can change a person’s life forever, whether the survivor of an attack is an adult or a child, and whether the injuries suffered in an attack are outwardly visible or internal and emotional.  Anyone facing this situation needs to enforce his or her legal rights.  If this includes you or someone you love, contact an Orange County Dog Bite Lawyer at the Dog Bite Law Group as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation.