Dogs bites have the potential to cause serious injury, and even more so when the bite is on the face or head.
Depending on the size and strength of the dog, a bite can cause a number of serious medical issues. Their powerful teeth and jaws can cause internal damage, skin tearing, infections, damage to tissue and muscles, puncture wounds, scars, disfigurement, and broken bones. If the bite breaks the skin, it can introduce all sorts of bacteria to the victim’s body, leading to medical complications like:
- Septic arthritis: joint infections that develop from a penetrating bite wound
- Osteomyelitis: infection of the bone
- Localized abscesses: a painful mass that develops when bacteria is left untreated
- Generalized cellulitis: a tissue infection from untreated bacteria
- Pyothorax: pus in the chest cavity that develops from bites in the chest region
- Septic peritonitis: pus in the abdominal cavity
- Rabies: a viral disease that infects the central nervous system and brain
Bites to the face are particularly worrisome because they can leave the victim with major lacerations and puncture wounds, which can cause permanent scarring, disfigurement, deformity, and discoloration. Unlike bites on other parts of the body, these wounds are visible to the outside world and can have long-lasting effects on the victim.
Small children are at an increased risk for facial wounds from dog bites because of their size. Dog bites can be particularly traumatizing for children, who are less equipped to deal with the emotional trauma and physical pain of a serious bite.
Regardless of age, however, many dog bite victims suffer adverse psychological effects after a bite to the face—and understandably so. Victims may deal with intense nightmares, flashbacks, increased anxiety, trouble sleeping, and body image issues stemming from visible scarring or disfigurement.
In some states, the owner of the dog can avoid liability if the dog has no history of aggressive behavior. However, this is not the case in California, which is a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites. California Civil Code section 3342 states that “the owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” Therefore, whether you were bitten by someone’s dog in a public place or in their home (and whether it was the dog’s first bite or its 10th), the owner is legally liable for the harm caused.
If you or a loved one has been suffered facial wounds due to a dog bite, contact the personal injury experts at Welebir | Tierney. Our experienced dog bite attorneys will work tirelessly to understand your case, quantify your losses, and thoroughly prepare a case that gives you the best chance of financial recovery.