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An aggressive german shepherd showing his teeth

Every minute, approximately eight people in the U.S. are bitten by a dog — that’s 4.5 million dog bites a year, according to federal data. Some people will be lucky to escape without lasting wounds, but in many cases, bites are severe enough that they require medical attention. Dog bites can change someone’s life forever. In the most severe cases, a dog bite can be fatal. Even if someone survives a severe attack, they may be left with disfiguring injuries that are difficult to heal from. And while they should be able to focus all of their energy on recovery, they’ll likely face financial costs that can be staggering.

Dog Bite Expenses

Every dog bite scenario is different, but there are some typical costs that you’re likely to incur after suffering a bite. Sometimes, the dog owner’s homeowners’ insurance will cover your medical expenses, but this depends on where the incident occurred. Receiving compensation can be even more challenging if you’re bitten by a stray dog with an unknown owner. Knowing which expenses you’ll face can help prepare you for your recovery — and will prove helpful if you decide to file a dog bite lawsuit to recover costs. Keeping detailed records of your expenses is one thing you should do after a North Carolina dog bite that can make it easier to receive reimbursements down the road.

Medical Bills

You should immediately seek medical attention if a dog bite breaks or punctures your skin. Dogs carry bacteria in their mouths, and if their saliva enters open wounds, it can cause infections that can become serious if left untreated. A medical provider will examine the wound, apply antibiotics, and recommend a tetanus shot if you haven’t received one in the last five years. Sometimes, dog bite wounds can cause bones to fracture or break or be severe enough to require surgery. Medical bills can quickly add up. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost of a dog bite claim in 2023 was $58,545. 

Lost Wages & Loss of Future Earning Capacity

You may miss work while recovering from a dog bite, and time away from your job can create financial hardship. Lost wages are typically defined as money you would have earned if you hadn’t suffered an injury. Even a few days of unpaid leave can be detrimental, especially if you’re the primary earner in your family. If a dog bite is severe enough, you may lose future earning capacity, the income you would have earned if you hadn’t been injured. This is often relevant when someone is diagnosed with a permanent disability as a result of a dog bite and their ability to work is severely impacted.

Future Medical Expenses

Dog bite recovery can be a long and expensive process, and the immediate medical expenses aren’t the only cost a patient might face. Dog bites can lead to health complications that require medical care in the future as well. One example is dog bite amputations — sometimes, a bite does so much damage that limbs cannot be saved. Amputees need months of physical therapy and rehabilitation, which may not be fully covered by health insurance. Another example is reconstructive plastic surgery or scar removal after a dog bite. These procedures may not happen immediately, but the expenses still add up. 

Who Is Responsible for Costs in North Carolina Dog Bite Cases?

North Carolina uses the “one-bite” rule to determine liability in dog bite cases, meaning that dog owners are liable if they knew or should have known about the animal’s potential to injure someone. If a dog has previously bitten someone, that can help prove that an owner should have known about the dog’s propensity for biting. Even if a dog hasn’t bitten someone before, an owner can still be found liable if the dog has acted aggressively in other ways. North Carolina law also states that the owners of dangerous dogs should be held strictly liable if the dog causes injury or damage to a person, property, or another animal. A dangerous or potentially dangerous dog is an animal that has:

  • Killed or severely injured someone without provocation
  • Trained for dog fighting
  • Bitten someone and caused injuries requiring hospitalization
  • Killed or injured a domestic animal
  • Approached someone in a vicious or terrorizing manner

After a North Carolina dog bite, you should contact an attorney who can help determine liability and ensure that you get the compensation you need.

Finding A North Carolina Dog Bite Lawyer

The recovery journey from a dog bite can be difficult physically and emotionally — when you add in the financial burden, it can feel overwhelming. While nothing will undo the pain of a dog bite injury, a North Carolina dog bite lawyer can assist you in recovering financial damages to help with your recovery. The attorneys at Whitley Law Firm have more than 80 years of combined legal experience and represent dog bite victims on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t get paid unless you do. Schedule a free consultation online or call us 24/7 at (919) 785-5000 for more information.

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