It’s Business, And It’s Personal

Are dogs a public health threat?

On Behalf of | May 26, 2022 | Personal Injury |

They say dogs are a man’s best friend, and judging from the number of North Carolina households that have a pet dog, these animals do capture our hearts. Nationally, over a third of households have at least one dog. Unfortunately, when it comes to dog-bite attacks, this can be a mixed blessing.

As it turns out, 4.5 million attacks occur each year. Although a majority of these incidents do not cause serious damage, over 800,000 people do seek medical attention for their injuries. In 2020, insurance companies paid $854 million for dog bite claims, with the average claim being around $50,000.

Tragically, nearly half of all dog-bite deaths are children under the age of 16, and children also are more likely to suffer serious injuries in an attack. In 2020, dog-bite incidents involving children increased by nearly 300% while lockdowns were in effect.

Who’s at fault in a dog-bite attack?

At one time, the “one-bite” rule guided the courts in the United State when it came to dog-bite attacks. Proving that the owner was negligent was left to the injured party, as they had to show that the owner knew that their dog had aggressive tendencies or had attacked in the past.

Fortunately, in North Carolina, dog owners have strict liability in such cases. If their dog caused injury to another and is thus a dangerous dog, they are liable for damages to the victim. In addition, they can face criminal charges if they:

  • Leave a dangerous dog unattended on their property that is not confined or restrained.
  • Let a dangerous dog off their property unrestrained, muzzled, or unleashed.

Under North Carolina law, a dangerous dog is one that has caused severe injury or death to a person. A potentially dangerous dog is one that has:

  • caused broken bones or disfigurement to a person.
  • Caused severe injury or death to a domestic animal when off the owner’s property.
  • Approached a person in a threatening manner.

What damages can a dog-bite attack cause?

Although studies have linked the frequency, type and severity of injury to specific breeds of dog or body type, the data is inconclusive as breed identification after an attack is often inaccurate. Any dog can cause injury, and the smaller or frailer the victim, the more severe the injury. Common injuries that result in a dog-bite attack include:

  • Muscle or tendon tears
  • Nerve damage
  • Torn skin or scarring
  • Broken bones

For residents of Fayetteville and surrounding communities, it is important to get medical treatment right away after an attack, and then explore options for pursuing a liability claim.