Aggressive dog shows dangerous teeth. German sheperd attack head detail.

Dog Bite 101

Dogs are great companions and have rightfully earned their title as man’s best friend. Dogs have many benefits: they reduce stress, they increase exercise, they make people feel less alone, and they generally just bring joy. 

Unfortunately, dog bite injuries happen, often without warning. In fact, dog bites are increasing in Idaho. In 2020, dog bites caused 46 hospitalizations. Dog bites are a very frightening experience and can cause very severe injuries, permanent damage, and heavy psychological trauma. Half of all dog bites involve children. Knowing the fine details of Idaho laws regarding dog bites is crucial to a good settlement. Jane Gordon has experience with dog bite claims, getting many clients six-figure settlements for their dog bite injuries. Make sure you hire a lawyer who knows Idaho dog bite laws. 

Idaho does not have a one bite rule. Idaho law regarding dog bites provides for strict liability when a dog injures someone. Strict liability means that the owner of the dog is at fault if their dog injures someone unprovoked. It does not even have to be a bite; it can include being knocked over by a dog and breaking a bone. This is a change from the terrible “one bite rule” that existed prior to 2016. 

If you are bit by a dog or helping someone who was bit by a dog, it’s important to take these steps for when you pursue a claim:

When you are safe and out of harm’s way, take photos. Take photos of the dog, of the injury scene, and as you are healing, continue to document the process. When the dog bite has healed, take clear photos of any scarring in good light. If your injuries are so severe that you had to seek immediate medical attention, you can ask a friend, family member, or even ask your local injury attorney to document the scene of the injury. 

Seek medical attention! Dog bites are prone to infection and often need wound cleaning at a doctor’s office. Because bites are prone to infection, it is important to get medical attention as quickly as you possibly can, either via the emergency room or an urgent care facility. You might need to get a rabies shot. As the bite is healing, make sure you follow up with your doctor if you experience any numbness or tingling at the wound. If the wound looks infected or hot, you should go immediately to the doctor. Take photos of your wounds as they are healing. If you have any scarring, make sure you take photos of the scars in good lighting. 

Call animal control or other law enforcement. Animal control will identify the dog owner, investigate the dog, get confirmation of its rabies vaccine, potentially issue criminal citations, and get insurance information. If the dog is not current on its rabies vaccine, it will be quarantined for 10 days to make sure it does not have rabies. If the dog has bitten someone before, it might be classified as a vicious dog. In Idaho, dog bites can be a misdemeanor charge or an infraction. 

Gather information. If you can, get the dog owners name and address. Write down the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the dog bite. 

Preserve evidence. If the dog tore your clothes or damaged your property in the dog bite, save those items. They can be used at the time of settlement to maximize your claim’s value. 

A dog bite victim can seek compensation for medical bills, wage loss, permanent injury, scarring, and pain and suffering. It’s important to hire an attorney who knows how to properly investigate the facts and evaluate and present the injury claim to maximize your compensation. Your attorney will analyze the liability of the owner, evaluate the severity of the bite using the Dunbar bite scale and will investigate if the dog has any reported bites or prior aggression. In addition to Idaho statutes governing dog bites and vicious dogs, various city and county ordinances also can apply to your situation. 

To seek compensation for a dog injury, you can file a claim with the dog owner’s insurance or file a personal injury lawsuit against the owner. Depending on the circumstances around your dog bite, there could be additional people or entities that can be held responsible for your injury. The biggest hurdles victims face when they have a dog bite claim is finding insurance, properly assessing their case value, and insurance companies wrongly denying liability. Contacting a personal injury attorney to investigate and advocate for you while you heal can help give you support while navigating this process. 

What can you seek compensation for when you are bit by a dog?

Medical treatment – All medical bills, this is the main component of a dog bite injury claim.

Lost wages and future earnings – if you miss work for your medical appointments, or the dog bite injury causes a permanent injury affecting your ability to work, your attorney can calculate how future earnings are affected. 

Property damage – if the dog damaged any of your property, that can be reimbursed. 

Pain and suffering 

Punitive damages – if the dog has a history of biting or aggressive behavior, you might be able to pursue punitive damages against the owner. 

How long do I have for my dog bite claim?

A dog bite, like all personal injury cases in Idaho, have a statute of limitations of two years from the date of the dog bite. This means you must either have your case settled OR file a lawsuit to protect your rights within two years of the dog bite or your claim stops. This statute is calculated differently for minors. 

The best thing you can do for yourself is talk to an attorney who understands Idaho dog bite law. You will protect your rights and ensure that you maximize your recovery for your injuries. 

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