Dog bites can leave you with serious, lasting injuries

People refer to dogs as "man's best friend," which is true of many dogs kept as pets, service animals or companions. However, some dogs have a history of abuse or neglect by humans which can make them dangerous to people. Others may actually have been trained to become aggressive "attack" or guard dogs. The truth is that you can't really know the temperament of any animal with which you don't live and know the complete history of, even if they seem nice.

It only takes a second for a seemingly-friendly animal to snap and attack you or your child. Depending on the size of the animal and the severity of the attack, the injuries that result from dog bites could have long-term consequences and cause permanent damage.

Faces and hands are common locations of severe injuries

Small children and people seated on chairs or the floor can suffer serious injuries to their faces in a matter of moments in dog attacks. Even adults who were standing at the time of the initial bite could end up knocked over and suffer severe facial injuries.

Plastic surgery is often necessary after facial injuries related to dog-bite attacks. For children, there may be a need for ongoing surgeries over several years as the child's body and underlying tendons and tissues grow and expand. The expense involved in a total recovery can be tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Many people, including small children, will instinctively raise their hands to protect their faces or necks during an attack. While this action can prevent facial scarring and potentially fatal injuries to the neck, the hands are quite delicate. There are many small bones, muscles and connective tissue in the hands that can leave you with impaired function after an attack.

Reconstructive surgery may be necessary for full recovery. There's also serious potential for disfiguring scars, as your hands are commonly visible in all kinds of clothing. You could require multiple plastic surgeries on the hands and fingers, just as you would for debilitating facial injuries.

Dog owners are responsible for the injuries their dogs inflict

In most cases, except where the animal's destruction is necessary to stop the attack, neither owner nor authorities can euthanize the dog until there has been a period of quarantine. This period helps determine if the dog has rabies or not. Regardless of the rabies status of the dog, however, the owner will likely have to pay for your expenses related to the attack.

In many cases, homeowner's insurance will cover medical expenses, including trauma care and therapy, after an attack. However, in some cases, you may have to file a lawsuit against the dog's owner to recover losses, particularly if the dog was a breed not covered by an insurance policy or if no such policy is available for claims.

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