Every year, dogs bite and injure approximately 4.7 million people across the United States, with children more likely to be bitten than adults. One out of every six bites is severe enough to require medical attention and some can even be fatal, so if you or a family member were injured by a dog, you may be able to pursue compensation.
Maine recognizes traditional negligence and strict liability rules for dog-bite cases. It also has statutes that create additional potential liability. When you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury because of a dog, legal advice from a personal injury lawyer can help you determine your options.
- Dog bite and injury outcomes
- How you can protect others from dog attacks
- Maine dog bite rules
- Why consider a dog bite victim lawyer
Dog Bite and Injury Outcomes
Injuries from a dog bite can be very serious, and even small bites can result in life-long scarring as well as a fear of dogs.
Children are especially vulnerable to dog bites. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, between 2010 and 2012 more than 350,000 children were bitten by dogs, and children under the age of 4 were twice as likely to be bitten as those between the ages of 5 and 9. According to the same study, nearly 27,000 people undergo reconstructive surgery after a dog bite, and more than 20% of victims require medical attention.
The long-term consequences of a dog bite, especially for children, can include heightened fear of strange dogs. This is on top of any physical injuries that may result. Keep in mind that a dog does not have to bite someone to cause harm; if a dog knocks a person to the ground and causes injury, the owner may still be liable.
Protecting Others From Another Dog Attack
When a dog bites someone, that dog may have attacked before or may attack again in the future. Sometimes people who love animals hesitate to report the bite because of what might happen to the dog. However, there are many options for handling the situation that do not involve harming the animal. Under Maine law, the owners of the animal, not the dog, are held responsible for attacks, bites, and other injuries.
By reporting the incident, you protect the wider community. After a dog bite is reported, both the dog and its owner can be assessed. Steps can be taken (or imposed) to ensure that the dog will not hurt anyone else. Those steps can include:
- Muzzling the dog when it is outside the home to prevent further biting
- Training for the dog and the owner
- Restricting the animal’s access to outside
Understanding Maine’s Dog Bite Rule
Maine recognizes different types of claims arising from dog-bites, including negligence, strict liability, and statutory liability. Each type of claim requires different proof and the defenses available to the dog owner or keeper are different depending on the type of claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can investigate and analyze the facts of your case to determine which type of claim best suits the facts of your case.
Deciding who is responsible for a dog bite or attack means focusing on the behavior and knowledge of the dog owner, not looking simply at the breed of the dog. Prior knowledge of unprovoked bites or attacks can mean legal liability regardless of the dog’s breed.
Why Consider a Dog Bite Victim Lawyer?
Residents of Lewiston and other Maine communities may not understand their rights under the Maine dog-bite statutes and under Maine common law. Dog attacks that cause injury, including bumps and bruising, long-term scars or property damage, may be the responsibility of the owner or keeper. Under Maine law, a lawsuit must generally be filed within six years of the dog attack, which allows time for a full diagnosis of the injuries, including long-term psychological effects.
If you or a family member has been injured because of a dog bite, you may have the right to compensation. Contact The Law Offices of Fales & Fales, P.A., at 888-526-9408 for a FREE consultation to determine the best way to proceed.