America is a society of dog lovers. According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA), 36.5% of U.S. households include at least one dog. Although dogs are somewhat less popular as pets in the New England area than in other regions, nearly 1/3 of homes in the Northeastern states have dogs. New Hampshire is home to more than 200,000 dogs.
With tens of millions of pet dogs sharing our communities nationwide, it’s no surprise that millions of people are bitten by dogs each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hundreds of thousands of dog bite victims require medical treatment each year. While dog bite fatalities are rare, serious injuries are not. Data from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons shows that tens of thousands of reconstructive procedures are performed on dog bite victims each year.
Being attacked by a dog or seeing your child bitten is a traumatic experience. It may be difficult to think clearly, but your next steps count—both medically and legally.
Your first step should always be to determine whether the dog bite victim needs medical attention for. If you’re in doubt about whether or not medical treatment is necessary, err on the side of caution and let a professional make that call. Neglecting a dog bite wound can lead to infection, aggravate scarring, and cause other serious complications or illnesses.
It’s also important to determine whether the dog that bit you or your child has up-to-date vaccinations, and to tell the treating physician immediately if the dog was ill or acting strangely.
If you’ve been attacked by a dog or suffered a serious dog bite, you’ll have many reasons to delay seeking legal advice. You may be in pain, pursuing medical treatment, medicated, or just seriously shaken up by the experience. In addition, some people hesitate to pursue legal action in the wake of a dog bite if the dog owner is a friend or family member.
However, medical care after a dog bite can be expensive, and your medical insurance carrier may not cover the costs if the insurer determines that a third party was responsible for the injury and may be liable for medical costs. It is in your best interests to understand your rights and options as early as possible, so you can make information decisions about how best to move forward.
Liability for dog bite injuries is straightforward in New Hampshire. While some states give dog owners a “free bite” and hold them responsible only if they had reason to know that the animal was dangerous, New Hampshire dog owners and keepers are responsible for harm caused by their animals with very limited exceptions. In short, the owner/keeper of a dog is liable for damages the dog causes unless the person suffering damages was trespassing or committing another tort at the time of the injury. If the dog’s owner is a minor child, the child’s parents bear legal responsibility for harm caused by the dog.
The injured person typically has three years to file a civil lawsuit against the dog’s owner, but it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer sooner. Over time, witness memories fade, physical evidence is lost or damaged, and it may become more difficult to build the strongest possible case on your behalf. Working with a qualified personal injury lawyer from the beginning will also help to protect you from insurance company tactics designed to limit or cut off your access to fair compensation.
Attorney Kevin J. Broderick understands the stress and confusion that accompanies a serious injury, and wants to make the process of pursuing the compensation you deserve as painless as possible. That process starts with a free, no-obligation consultation so that you can make an educated decision about your next steps.
Just pick up the phone right now and call 978-459-3085 or fill out the contact form on this site to get started.
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