“Pandemic puppies” were valuable support animals to many people in the spring of 2020, when coronavirus lockdowns hit with almost no warning. The COVID-19 pandemic is over, but the effects linger. Most of these owners still treasure most of these animals. But cute pandemic puppies that grew up spending every waking moment with their owners are now full-grown animals that are often alone for much of the day and not used to outsiders. This combination could be dangerous for victims who unwittingly wander too close to these animals.
As outlined below, a sudden and unexpected animal attack causes deep and long-lasting physical and emotional injuries. So, in addition to a pile of medical bills that gets bigger each day, these victims, and their families, must deal with enormous amounts of pain and suffering each and every day.
The dedicated London, OH, dog bite lawyers at Kruger & Hodges are very familiar with dog bites and the injuries these attacks cause. We have successfully resolved these cases for decades, achieving life-changing results for our clients in the process. So, we have developed proven methods. We know what works and what does not work. Therefore, we are very well-positioned to obtain maximum compensation for your serious injuries. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Dog Bite Injuries
We mentioned the different kinds of physical and emotional dog bite injuries above. In this section, we will take a closer look at these injuries and also examine the ways a London, OH, dog bite lawyer from Kruger & Hodges can help.
Dogs bite millions of Americans every year. Most of these victims are small children. In these cases, serious dog bite injuries usually begin with the knockdown.
In these situations, many large dogs, like pit bulls and rottweilers, are much larger than their victims. So, the initial knockdown usually causes broken bones and head injuries.
Children are physically resilient. They often easily bounce back from sidewalk falls and other such incidents that would be debilitating to others. Dog bite knockdowns are different. The force is much more extreme.
Therefore, despite the best efforts of doctors and physical therapists, these injuries are normally permanent, at least to an extent.
Once the dog makes contact with the victim, a dog’s teeth usually cause deep puncture wounds along with severe skin lacerations.
The puncture wounds often punch holes into blood veins and internal organs. Sometimes, the resulting internal wounds practically bleed uncontrollably. Other times, the pressure is not as extreme, and the wounds bleed slowly and almost noticeably. Both kinds of internal injuries are equally serious.
Most of us have seen pictures of the graphic tearing lacerations a vicious dog’s teeth usually cause. Unfortunately, these photos usually are not doctored or altered.
These physical wounds require prompt, proper attention from doctors experienced in this area. So, a London, OH, dog bite lawyer from Kruger & Hodges can quickly connect injured victims with top-shelf doctors. As a result, the healing process begins almost immediately.
This healing process includes an emotional process. Dog bite wounds and other personal injuries as well, are not just physical.
We mentioned that many dog bite victims are small children. These victims often develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The symptoms of this brain injury include:
As mentioned, PTSD is a physical brain injury. Extreme stress, like a violent animal attack, changes the brain’s chemical composition, causing the aforementioned symptoms.
Our expanded professional team includes mental health professionals, including hard-to-find child psychologists and psychiatrists. So, instead of picking a name off an insurance company list, your family forms a relationship with a trusted medical partner.
Our legal team works with doctors who defer billing until the case is resolved. However, these professionals understandably do not work for free. The bills must be paid eventually.
At Kruger & Hodges, we firmly believe that the responsible dog owner, not the victim’s health insurance company or a government agency, should pay these bills. Otherwise, we all pay for them in the form of higher insurance premiums and taxes. That simply is not right, in our opinion.
Ohio’s dog bite law is quite complex. But we will break it down as best we can while discussing some issues of each approach.
At first blush, Section 955.28 is incredibly broad. But, some important exceptions and exclusions lurk in the fine print.
We will start by quoting the law. “The owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog.” In other words, under this law, a London, OH, dog bite lawyer must only prove cause, which is a connection between the animal attack and the victim’s injuries.
Now, for the exceptions. A 2015 court case shielded non-owners from liability, even though they are specifically listed in the statute. An owner is the animal’s registered owner. If Tom finds a stray dog on the street, takes it into his home, and keeps it for six months but does not get a dog license, he is not the animal’s owner.
The law also does not apply if the victim was committing a criminal trespass. Usually, people commit criminal trespass if they are told to leave and come back anyway. If Tom sees a group of children playing near his dog on Monday, he warns them to stay away, and if they return on Tuesday, they might be committing criminal trespass.
Finally, the strict liability law does not apply if the victim provoked the dog. However, in Ohio, provocation is much more limited than insurance company lawyers claim it is. In fact, provoking an animal is almost synonymous with torturing an animal. Usually, provocation is an intentional, malicious, and physical act.
Provocation is an absolute defense to strict liability claims. The defense works differently in negligence claims. More on that below.
A lack of care, which could be ordinary negligence or negligence per se, is a third legal option in an Ohio dog bite case.
Ordinary negligence is a very effective claim if the responsible party was a non-owner or non-custodian, like a teacher who allowed students to play near a strange dog. Such conduct violates the duty of care that requires teachers to look after the safety of the students under their supervision. If a lack of care causes injury, the tortfeasor is liable for damages.
The provocation defense is available. However, in a negligence claim, provocation is a form of contributory negligence. If the owner and victim were both partially at fault, the jury must divide responsibility on a percentage basis.
Ohio is a modified comparative fault state with a 51% bar. So, if the victim was no more than 49% responsible for the incident, the tortfeasor (negligent actor) is responsible for a proportionate share of damages.
All this assumes an insurance company lawyer establishes the foundational elements of provocation, which were mentioned above.
Assumption of the risk, which usually involves a “Beware of Dog” or other warning sign, is also a possible defense in scienter claims.
Once again, the insurance company must establish foundational assumption of the risk elements, which are:
Voluntary assumption of
A known risk.
In other words, the defendant must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the victim saw the sign, could read the sign, and could understand what the sign meant. These foundational elements are almost impossible to establish if the victim is a small child.
If the judge allows the defense, the jury must proportionally divide responsibility for the injury, as outlined above.
These claims often involve third-party liability. In the above example, the school district is financially responsible for damages, at least in most cases. The respondeat superior rule holds employers liable for damages if their employees are negligent in the course and scope of employment.
Respondent superior and other third-party liability theories also apply in negligence per se claims. Negligence per se is a violation of a safety law instead of a lack of ordinary care. Most localities in Madison County have fence laws, leash laws, and other animal restraint laws. If an owner or custodian violates such a law, and that violation substantially causes injury, the victim is entitled to compensation.
Count on a Determined Madison County Lawyer
Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced dog bite lawyer in London, contact Kruger & Hodges, Attorneys at Law, by going online or calling 513-894-3333. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.