Dog bites are known for being both painful and frightening. However, these injuries also come with a unique set of medical complications, many of which can even endanger the victim’s life. Treating dog bite wounds can quickly become expensive, especially if the injured party must foot the bill to pay for other medical conditions caused by the bite. Fortunately, in Pennsylvania, dog bite victims can recover damages to cover these expenses, so if you were bitten by a dog and later suffered an infection or other related medical condition, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you hold the negligent owner accountable.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
Most people associate dog bites with painful puncture wounds and while the dangers of these types of wounds should not be underestimated, victims are often at risk of suffering more than bleeding, bruising, and scarring. This is because while shallow bites, when properly cleaned and bandaged, usually do not have serious side effects, deeper bites inflicted by large dogs can have far more devastating consequences. For instance, a bite from a large dog can do much more than just puncture the skin, but can damage the muscles, ligaments, and in some severe cases, even the bones. Even after being stitched up, the injured party may need to undergo surgery at a later date to repair severed ligaments and tendons. Scarring also tends to be much more severe in these types of cases.
Aside from the actual wounds themselves, dog bite victims are also at risk of suffering from serious bite-related complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infection is the leading complication faced by dog bite victims. In fact, the CDC estimates that as many as one in five dog bite cases result in some type of infection. The most common infections and diseases include:
- Rabies, which is a virus that is spread by an infected animal through its saliva and manifests in the victim as a high fever, difficulty swallowing, and convulsions. Although rabies has largely been eradicated in the U.S. via vaccines, it is still important to seek treatment if you were bitten by an unvaccinated dog.
- Pasteurella canis is the most common type of bacteria transmitted by dogs through their bite and if left untreated can cause redness and swelling in the affected area.
- MRSA is a deadly bacteria found in some dog bites that is resistant to most antibiotics.
- Tetanus, which is a toxin transmitted in certain kinds of bacteria. If a victim is unvaccinated, he or she could suffer from difficulty swallowing, stiff jaw and neck muscles, painful body spasms, and paralysis.
These are the most serious and deadly strains of bacteria. However, there are many more less deadly kinds of bacteria that can still cause infections followed by tissue death around the site of the bite.
In Pennsylvania, a dog’s owner can be held strictly liable for injuries inflicted by his or her animal. This is true even when the person did not know that the animal was dangerous. In order to recover, the injured party will need to demonstrate that he or she suffered a severe injury, such as a broken bone or a disfiguring laceration that required sutures.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you were bitten by a dog in Philadelphia, please contact van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim at (215) 486-0123 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney who can address your concerns. We are ready to help you today.