Dog attacks have long been a point of contention among the public. While fatal dog attacks are fairly rare in the United States, dog attacks result in serious injuries every day. The disfigurement resulting from a severe dog bite can have a devastating impact both physically and financially. According to Forbes, 28,000 Americans had reconstructive surgery after a severe dog bite in 2018 alone. On average, the cost of this treatment was more than $18,200.
Whether the type of dog impacts the likelihood of a bite is a hot topic. While many owners passionately defend their favorite breed, the numbers show some dogs are more likely to result in an attack than others. A number of studies, including one by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, show pit bulls account for more dog bite injuries than every other type of dog combined.
If you are the victim of a dog bite, you could be facing significant medical expenses. Thankfully, New Hampshire law provides a remedy through filing a civil suit against the dog’s owner. Dog bite laws differ significantly from standard negligence claims. To learn more about your legal options, contact the Coates Law Office, PLLC.
Owner Liability for a Dog Bite Injury in New Hampshire
Every state deals with liability for a dog bite differently. Some states require proof that a dog owner knew their pet was dangerous before making them pay for injuries the dog caused. Other states take a “strict liability” approach, which holds a dog owner accountable regardless of whether they knew the dog was dangerous or not. New Hampshire takes the strict liability approach.
According to New Hampshire RSA 466:19, any person who owns or keeps a dog is liable for the injuries they cause. State law does not require an injury victim to establish that the owner knew or should have known the animal was dangerous to recover compensation. In fact, the statute covers more than just dog bites. Any injuries caused by a dog to you or your property fall under the statute. If a plaintiff can prove a dog caused an injury, the dog’s owner is on the hook for the damages.
While strict liability is straightforward, there are potential defenses in these cases. If a defendant can establish that the plaintiff was trespassing or committing a crime at the time of the dog attack, they are not liable for any damages. A New Hampshire dog bite lawyer could show the jury that their client was not trespassing when the bite occurred.
Third-Party Negligence Claims
Strict liability claims are only available against the owner or keeper of a dog. However, you could file a standard negligence lawsuit against a third party if they caused a dog they did not own to bite you. For example, if your neighbor opened a gate on your property to let a stray dog in, they could face liability if the dog attacks you. The standard of proof in these claims is higher, as you must demonstrate the third party acted negligently.
Dog Bite Injuries in New Hampshire
Dog bites can lead to devastating injuries. While large dogs are commonly responsible for the most devastating injuries, the reality is that small dogs can cause major damage as well. Even tiny dogs can cause significant facial scarring or nerve damage under the right circumstances. Some of the most common injuries following a dog bite include:
- Facial scarring
- Nerve damage
- Lacerations and bruises
- Puncture wounds
It is critical to obtain necessary medical treatment as soon as possible following a dog bite. Given the significant risk of infection, failing to address these wounds immediately can cause your condition to worsen. Once you have addressed your medical needs, a New Hampshire dog bite lawyer could help you recover compensation for these personal injuries in New Hampshire.
Common Damages in New Hampshire
The damages available in a dog bite lawsuit correspond with the severity of the injuries. These damages can cover not only medical expenses but also the loss of any personal property caused by the dog. This can include the cost of livestock or other pets. Common damages include:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Cost of replacing personal property
- Pain and suffering
Discuss Your Options With a New Hampshire Dog Bite Attorney
The process of recovering compensation following a dog bite can be lengthy. In addition to the dog owner, you could have a potential negligence claim against a third party. Attorney Bradford Coates could analyze your case and identify every party that is potentially at fault. Contact us for more information!