Whether you have been in Bend, Oregon for a week, a month, or a lifetime, you have probably heard of our town referred to as “DogTown, USA”. Despite having leash laws, we also live in one of the most dog friendly areas in the United States. Our furry friends are welcome in numerous area attractions, they have their own parks, and there are even breweries who welcome them when their humans are in their company.
Man’s best friend, four-legged friend, or fur baby — these are all names we commonly hear when people are talking about their dogs. As lovable as a dog might be, this does not mean they cannot cause harm, and in fact, they do. Annually, thousands of people suffer injuries due to dog bites, or even more traumatic, a dog attack.
When someone is a victim of a dog bite, the harm they suffer can cause a lifetime of trauma, especially when the victim is a child. The Insurance Information Institute (III) provides some insight into the frequency of dog bites across the United States. There are an estimated 350,000 people treated annually for dog bites, and more than 10,000 of them are children. Whether you or your child was attacked or bitten by a dog, you should seek guidance from a dog bite lawyer in Bend.
Oregon Dog Laws Which Impact Dog Bite Victims
Typically, when someone is injured in Oregon, the personal injury statutes are clear about establishing liability. This is not always the case when it comes to dog bites or attacks. There are several things which are different about dog bite laws. When a dog bites a person, the owner of the dog is responsible for any economic losses suffered by the victim, or their family.
This means the owner of the dog would be liable to reimburse for:
- Medical costs — any costs associated with treatment of the wound or wounds which the victim suffered because of a dog bite.
- Lost wages — if the victim loses time from work, they may be entitled to seek reimbursement for any money they lost while they recover from a dog bite or attack.
- Additional losses — reasonable and verifiable losses which may be associated with caring for a victim including household assistance, transportation, etc.
These are explained more clearly in Oregon Revised Statutes, section 31.360 subdivision (1). However, what is notably absent from these rules are non-economic damages which include pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and scarring or disfigurement.
Additionally, it is important to note that a dog owner has a right to mount a defense against paying the economic losses associated with dog bites. This is why hiring an attorney from a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon is important for victims.
The “One Bite Rule” in Oregon Statutes
A victim may be able to collect additional compensation for non-economic damages if they can prove the owner of the dog knew or should have known their dog may bite someone. Typically, this can be established if the dog has previously bitten someone either inside the home, or outside. To obtain this information, an investigation of the dog’s history would have to be conducted. An experienced dog bite lawyer in Bend can help you obtain this information.
There may be other ways to establish negligence in dog bite cases. For example, if a dog owner violated any of the Oregon laws which must be followed by owners, which includes leashing a dog. Owners are required to maintain control of their dogs.
Dog Bite Victims Live with Trauma
When you or your child has suffered a dog bite, the aftermath can be devastating. Not only is a victim likely to suffer emotional trauma, but they may also face additional physical issues. Depending on the size of the dog, and the circumstances of the attack, victims may be faced with:
- Disfigurement or scarring — dog bites can result in disfigurement or scarring depending on where the victim was bitten. If a dog bites a victim’s face or neck, these scars may require plastic surgery.
- Broken bones — if a dog attacks someone on the street, they may be shoved to the ground by the dog and as a result, suffer a broken bone.
- Infections in wounds — dog bite wounds can become infected, causing additional pain and resulting in longer healing times.
The last thing anyone needs is to have a dog bite victim claim the attack was their own fault. That is why it is important to work with a personal injury lawyer in Bend. A skilled attorney can help you establish a case, they can make sure you understand the laws which impact dog bite victims, and they can help you get the compensation you deserve.
Insurance Claims and Dog Bites
While Bend, Oregon may be considered DogTown USA, this does not mean dogs have a right to bite or attack a person anywhere they happen to be. Dog owners are responsible for ensuring the safety of all who encounter their animals. In most cases, dog owners have liability insurance coverage as part of their homeowner’s policy.
In many cases, a homeowner will be reluctant to provide information to a victim about their insurance coverage because they understand they will likely see an increase in their premiums if a victim files a successful claim. However, you have the right to reimbursement for your losses and an experienced personal injury lawyer in Bend can help you establish your losses.
Why Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer in Bend Matters
When a dog owner is notified their pet bit a person, whether that person is a child or an adult, they are generally defensive because they know their pet. Most people will automatically claim the dog was provoked — whether they were or not. In the event the owner finds a way to prove this, they may not be responsible for the economic losses a victim suffered.
Dog owners often claim a victim was trespassing, they were taunting the dog, or they were warned about the potential the dog may bite if certain actions were taken. This is one of the reasons why it is vitally important to seek guidance from a dog bite lawyer in Bend.
If you, or your child was attacked or bitten by a dog while at the owner’s home, in a park or playground, or in any of the many areas where dogs are allowed in Bend, contact The Steele Law Firm, a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon today, at (541) 647-1812 for a free case evaluation and consultation. Make sure you know your rights under Oregon statutes.