It can happen in an instant – you’re walking down the street, minding your own business, when suddenly a dog comes out of nowhere and starts to act aggressively toward you. You think about running, but you know that if you do, the dog will surely cause more harm. But when you stay put, the dog bites you anyway.
Maybe, instead of walking down the street, you’re just doing your job of either delivering the mail, dropping off a package, fixing a utility, or installing a power line. A dog comes running from the back of the house and attacks.
Dog bites can happen so easily and in the blink of an eye, which is why they are an all too common occurrence. Because they are a common occurrence and because they can happen to anyone, it is important that you understand your rights as the victim of a dog bite should you ever be on the receiving end of canine aggression. If you have already been bitten by a dog and want to know what, if any, legal course you can pursue, contact an Idaho dog bite lawyer near you.
The Serious Dangers of Dog Bites
Every year, approximately one in 775 people seek medical attention for dog bites. The average age of victims is between five and nine. In children younger than 10, wounds usually occur around the head and neck, as small children’s upper bodies are about level with a large dog’s mouth. Whether a dog is acting out of aggression or playfulness usually doesn’t matter—dogs’ jaws are strong and can exert more than 450 pounds of pressure. If a dog does bite someone for whatever reason, the results can be devastating. If the victim in question is a small child, a bite can result in lacerations, avulsions, and puncture wounds. In the worst-case scenarios, dog bites result in death.
In nonfatal dog bite cases, the risks of disease and infection are ever present. Zoonotic diseases, or those that are transmitted from animal to human, are especially dangerous, as humans do not have immunities against them. Immunocompromised individuals are even more at risk as their immune systems are already down. Some common types of infections that dog bites cause include Staphylococcus aureus and Pasteurella multocida. P. multocida is known to cause septic arthritis, soft tissue infections, and osteomyelitis. Osteomyelitis is an infection in the bone that requires immediate medical attention.
Rabies is the greatest concern for dog bite victims. Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is almost always fatal. For this reason, if you were bitten by a dog whose vaccination history is unknown, it is imperative that you seek medical attention right away. This is the case even if your wound does not warrant medical attention. A dog bite lawyer will help you obtain your medical records and seek compensation for your dog bite injuries.
Infamous Idaho Dog Bite Law
Unlike many states that only hold owners accountable for dog bite damages if the dog has a history of aggression, Idaho is a one-bite state. This means that a person will be punished and held accountable for financial damages if his or her dog bites an unassuming person.
However, in order for the one-bite rule to apply, the victim must prove that he or she did not instigate the canine in any way. Per Title 25, Chapter 28 of Idaho’s Animal Code, a “dangerous dog” is one that attacks a person or another animal without “justified provocation.” Justified provocation refers to any act or omission that an otherwise reasonable person with a collective understanding of dog behavior would determine is likely to entice a normally complacent dog to bite or attack. Provocation might be throwing objects at the dog, yelling at the dog, or abusing the dog in some way. If the owner can prove that his or her canine was provoked, the victim may not be able to recover damages at all.
Because dog bite claims fall within personal injury law, and because personal injury claims hinge on negligence, a dog bite victim must be able to establish negligence on the part of the dog’s owner in order to have a successful claim. In dog bite claims, negligence comes down to control, or lack thereof, of the dog in question.
Though every city’s ordinances vary, there are minimum standards that dog owners must meet to avoid liability claims. For instance, in most townships, dog owners must register their dogs and equip their collars with visible license tags. Dogs must be leashed when in public, save for when they are in designated non-leash areas. When on their own personal property, dog owners must ensure their canines are fenced in. If a dog is dangerous, owners must post a “Dangerous Dog” sign to warn licensees, such as mailmen and delivery service people, of the possible risk. You can find your city’s dog bite laws in its ordinances. You should consider hiring a dog bite lawyer to help you navigate through the complex laws of dog bite injuries.
The Vicious Dog Code
If a dog bites a person or another animal without provocation, the courts may deem it a “vicious” or “at-risk” dog. What this means is that the dog is now known to be dangerous and that the owner must take extra precautions to prevent the animal from causing further harm. To ensure that the owner follows through with his or her obligation to take additional precautions, the court may order the owner of the dog to do one or more of the following:
- Confine the dog to a locked enclosure that may only be opened by a human when the dog is outdoors. This enclosure should not be easily accessible by other persons via accidental entry.
- When not on the owner’s property and when not confined in a secure and locked enclosure, the dog must be on a leash and controlled by a competent and physically capable individual. The leash must be standard for the dog’s weight.
- The owner must agree to allow the city to place a microchip within the dog at the expense of the owner. The owner must also allow the city to take a photo of the dog, which will then be placed within a public database for easy identification. When requested of him or her, the owner must bring the dog into a local police station or veterinary clinic for the purposes of confirming that the chip is still implanted.
- The owner shall place a “Dangerous Dog” or “Beware of Dog” sign in his or yard where it is clearly visible to visitors. The post must also include a visual that is easily recognizable and understood by small children.
If a person fails to abide by the court’s orders, he or she may be fined up to $200 dollars. A person guilty of a second similar violation within five years may be charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced to up to six months in jail. He or she may also receive a fine of between $500 and $7,000. A person guilty of a third or subsequent violation within 15 years of the first conviction may be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail and face a fine of between $500 and $9,000.
In addition to criminal sanctions, a person whose dog bites unprovoked shall be held liable for physical and financial harms caused by the dog. A dog bite lawyer will help you prove exactly that. You are not alone. A dog bite lawyer from The Idaho Advocates can help you seek justice through your legal claim.
What You Should Do When Immediately Attacked by a Dog
If you were bitten by a dog in Idaho, there are certain steps you should take immediately after the incident. The first step is to clean the wound and seek medical attention right away. If you cannot get in to see your doctor or a healthcare provider within an hour or so after the incident, do the following:
- Press gently on the wound to flush out as much of the contaminated blood and bacteria as possible.
- Rinse the wound with warm water and mild soap.
- Use a cloth to stanch the bleeding.
- If you have over-the-counter antibiotic ointment on hand, spread it across the wound.
- Wrap the wound with a bandage or cloth to keep bacteria out and to stop the bleeding.
- Visit your doctor and allow him or her to clean the wound in a professional manner.
- Follow doctor’s recommendations, which may include changing the bandage and applying cream several times a day.
- Keep an eye out for signs of infection. These signs may include swelling, redness, intense pain, and fever. If you develop any of these symptoms, head to the ER, as you have likely developed an infection.
Finally, you should contact your local Idaho dog bite lawyer. If the infection spreads, or if the attack was bad enough to warrant time off work and a trip or two to the hospital, you may need all the financial help you can get.
Call a Dog Bite Lawyer From The Idaho Advocates Today!
A dog bite lawyer at The Idaho Advocates can help you prove that the dog owner was negligent, that you were within your rights to be on the property on which you were bitten, and that the dog was unprovoked. We can also negotiate with the other party for a fair settlement or, if necessary, go to court on your behalf to fight for compensation. To get started today, call a dog bite lawyer today at 208-995-2444 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.
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