Des Moines Dog Bite Attorney

If you have suffered a dog bite injury, you are not alone; each year, according to the Center for Disease Control, more than 368,000 people sought emergency room treatment for dog bite-related injuries. A dog bite can cause personal injury ranging from lacerations to deformity and, in the most tragic cases, wrongful death.

If you or a loved one has been attacked by a dog, you may be entitled to damages for your injuries. At LaMarca Law Group, P.C., a Des Moines dog bite attorney can help. Each lawyer at our Des Moines firm has the experience necessary to use state and federal dog bite laws to your advantage. Call (515) 225-2600 for a consultation.

Our Dog Bite Attorneys

A successful dog bite lawsuit can result in compensation and damages that cover medical bills, lost income, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering. However, these claims can be difficult, especially if the dog owner is a friend or family member. Our lawyers will help determine which laws, damages, and defenses apply to your unique situation and can help you navigate the process of filing a claim, negotiating a settlement, or taking your case to court. We can handle all negotiations with insurance on your behalf to help reduce awkwardness and ensure you get the full compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, you need the assistance of an experienced dog bite lawyer. At LaMarca Law Group, P.C. in Des Moines, we will make every effort to hold the appropriate parties responsible so that your injury does not go uncompensated. We have won millions of dollars for our past clients, including $105,000 in a single dog bite claim. Our dedication to our clients and our excellent track record has earned us numerous awards, including being named among the Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers. Contact us to schedule a consultation with a Des Moines dog bite attorney today.

Dog Bite Liability

Laws governing liability in dog bite cases vary from state to state, and they often depend, in part, on the circumstances surrounding the attack. In most states, “strict liability” laws apply: the animal’s owner is held totally liable for all damages, regardless of whether he or she was aware of the dog’s propensity for violence.

In other states, an owner may be liable to a lesser degree if the animal had shown no previous inclination toward attack or if the dog acted playfully (did not intend to cause an injury). The law can also be complex regarding the victim’s role in the attack (for example, if the victim was on the owner’s property illegally or if the victim provoked the dog). Given the multifaceted and “case-by-case” nature of dog bite law, it is crucial to hire a talented attorney as soon as possible after your injury. To speak with a skilled Des Moines dog bite lawyer, contact LaMarca Law Group, P.C. today. Our attorneys have the experience necessary to work toward the best possible outcome.

Iowa is a strict liability state, which means the full responsibility is on the dog owner to control their dog and prevent the animal from attacking and injuring others. Whether the dog had a history of aggression or violence is irrelevant. As long as you weren’t committing a crime, such as trespassing, that directly contributed to the dog attack, you should be able to recover compensation for your resulting injuries from the dog owner or their homeowner’s insurance policy.

The exception to this is in the case of rabies. Dog attacks involving rabies are brought under the standard of negligence, rather than strict liability. If you were bitten by a rabid dog, you will have to demonstrate that the owner was negligent in their handling of the dog. This usually requires you to prove that the owner was aware or should have been aware that their dog had rabies, and failed to properly control it. If a dog owner has shown reasonable care to prevent the dog from biting, the owner cannot be held liable, even if the dog still attacks and causes injury. If you were bitten by a rabid dog, it is even more important that you hire a lawyer, since this type of claim is more difficult.

Click here to read more about dog bite liability and dog bite statistics.

Types of Dog Bite Injuries

No matter how harmless a dog may appear, it may still attack and cause severe harm. Dog bites can lead to a wide variety of injuries. The most common types of injuries that result from a dog attack include the following:

  • Lacerations: A dog bite can cause lacerations, which are deep cuts and tears in the skin that go past the epidermis and into the bones or muscles of your body. These wounds can cause excessive bleeding. This type of injury may require stitches or even cosmetic surgery.
  • Abrasions: Abrasions are superficial injuries such as scrapes that do not affect the epidermis. Abrasions do not cause a lot of bleeding, but they may cause temporary or permanent scarring, depending upon the severity and viciousness of the attack.
  • Punctures: A dog’s teeth can pierce or puncture your skin, causing serious damage. Although these wounds can be smaller than an abrasion or laceration, they might go deep and cause severe bleeding. A puncture wound can heighten the risk of infection, so you need to seek medical treatment right away.
  • Facial Injuries: Facial injuries can be catastrophic. Children are particularly susceptible to facial injuries, since their short height means their faces are closer to a dog’s. Any injuries to the face may require extensive cosmetic surgery, especially if the victim has been mauled.
  • Amputations: A dog bite can result in amputation if the bite impacts the bones, nerves, and tendons. A victim of a dog bite could lose an arm, hand, finger, leg, foot, or toe due to an attack.
  • Nerve Damage: A dog’s powerful jaw and sharp teeth may cause nerve damage, which can range from temporary loss of function to permanent damage that includes paralysis.
  • Infections: It is estimated that 10-15% of dog bites can lead to infections. Infections are caused by the bacteria in the dog’s mouth, or from bacteria on your skin. You should also be aware of the signs of a serious infection due to a dog bite. This includes redness, swelling, pain, and pus.

Extensive bleeding, infections, or other medical complications may be fatal when a dog bite occurs. A dog bite that results in loss of life for the victim can have a significant impact on the victim’s family. If your loved one passed away as a result of a dog attack, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim for compensation.

Compensation in a Dog Bite Claim

If you are successful in your claim, either with a settlement or a trial verdict, you should be able to recover damages that make up for all losses resulting directly from the dog attack. These can include:

  • Medical expenses, past and future, including surgeries, medications, and doctor appointments.
  • Lost wages, if you are forced to miss work during your recovery or while caring for your injured family member.
  • Lost earning potential, if your injuries will prevent you from returning to your job at the same pay as before.
  • Rehabilitative expenses, including both physical therapy and psychiatric help.
  • Pain and suffering, including loss of enjoyment of life.

If you pursue a wrongful death claim after the death of a loved one in a dog attack, you may also be able to recover compensation for losses including medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of financial support, loss of emotional support, and more.

What to Do If You Suffer a Dog Bite Injury

If you are bitten or attacked by a dog, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Once you are treated for your injuries, there are steps to take to preserve any evidence from a dog attack. You need to report the incident to animal control and/or law enforcement to ensure that the dog doesn’t harm another person. If possible, try also to do the following:

  • Obtain the contact information of the dog owner and their insurance information
  • Take photos of your injuries
  • Get statements and contact information from witnesses regarding what they observed
  • Do not make any statements, sign agreements, or accept a settlement from an insurer before obtaining legal counsel and going over your options.

If you were not able to obtain information after your dog bite accident, a lawyer can thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the incident on your behalf.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Dog Bites

How many people are bitten by dogs every year?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), there will be 4.7 million dog bites in the United States this year, and victims are often children. Up to 800,000 people require medical treatment for dog bites every year while 12 people will die because of dog bites. The AVMA noted that the Insurance Information Institute reported that in 2005 alone, insurance companies paid $317.2 million for dog bite liability claims.

What is the “one bite” rule?

The one-bite rule is honored in other jurisdictions in the United States and provides that a dog owner will not be liable for damages when they had no knowledge of a dog’s aggressive tendencies. Iowa is not a one bite rule state because it imposes strict liability on dog owners. The only exception to strict liability provided under Iowa law is for dog bite victims who were committing unlawful acts, such as trespassing, when they were bitten.

Will a dog be euthanized for biting me?

It will depend on the dog’s prior history. Des Moines city laws specify that after a dog has bitten a second time, the dog owner can be required to meet with the chief humane officer to review the incident and the applicable city ordinances. If the dog owner refuses to meet with the chief humane office, the dog may be taken from them and housed in the humane shelter until a decision is made on whether it can be rehabilitated or needs to be euthanized.

What happens if I was bitten by a stray dog?

Stray dogs may not have an owner who can be held liable for their aggression. If the dog that bit you was abandoned by its owner, and the owner is located, they are still legally responsible for a dog they once owned. If the stray dog escaped from a local humane society or no-kill shelter, then facility could be held liable for letting the dog escape.

Which kinds of dogs bite the most people?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) did a study that showed that approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur in America annually. Of those dog bites, 800,000 require medical attention and medical care. With the 2019 population of the United States estimated to be 329.5 million people, these statistics show that, on a yearly basis, one out of every 70 Americans will be bitten by a dog.

According to DogsBite.org, dogs killed at least 433 people from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2017. The dog breeds that killed most often were:

  • Pit bulls – almost 66 percent
  • Rottweilers – 10.4 percent
  • German shepherds – 4.6 percent
  • Mixed breeds – 3.9 percent
  • American bulldog – 3.5 percent
  • Mastiffs or Bullmastiffs – 3.2 percent
  • Huskies – 3 percent

Dogs, like their near cousins, wolves, tend to run in packs. They also can attack in packs. In many of these fatalities, the fatality occurred as a result of two or more dogs attacking. Pit bulls led the way in these pack attacks.

Iowa Dog Bite Victims – Contact an Attorney

If you live in central Iowa and need to speak with a Des Moines dog bite attorney following a serious injury, we can help. LaMarca Law Group, P.C. is committed to serving dog bite victims; contact us today at (515) 225-2600.

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