Dog bites happen every day across Maryland and the U.S. Even the most placid and harmless dogs can sometimes bite when they get scared or anxious. Most types and sizes of dogs (even little Yorkshire Terriers) can puncture the skin when they bite. Aside from the pain and physical tissue damage, dog bites can also lead to harmful infections. In fact, infections are a common secondary complication associated with dog bites. A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 15% of dog bites lead to an infection.
Our Maryland dog bite lawyers see a lot of dog bite victims with infections. In this post, we will look at the 3 most common types of infection that can result from a dog bite and talk about the impact these infections have on the settlement value of a dog bite injury case.
Strep and Staph Infections
Staphylococcus (“staph”) is a common type of fast-growing bacteria that can often be found in the skin and respiratory tracts of mammals (including dogs). Streptococcus (strep) is another very common type of bacteria that grows fast and comes in two different types (Type A and Type B). Staph and/or strep infections are the most common type of infection resulting from a dog bite.
A staph or strep infection can develop from a dog bite either because the dog is carrying the bacteria and it gets inside the body from the bite. Alternatively, the bite wound can later be infected by staph or strep from the person’s skin or other locations. Staph and strep can be effectively treated with basic antibiotics. However, early diagnosis of these infections is very important. If they are not timely diagnosed and treated, staph and strep infections can become very serious and even fatal.
Symptoms of strep or staph infection after a dog bit could include fever or elevated temperature, blistering or oozing at the wound site, and swelling or inflammation of the joints. Treatment for a dog bite staph or strep infections involves antibiotics. In some cases, draining of the bite wound may also be necessary.
Cellulitis is the medical term for a bacterial infection in the skin surface and tissue underneath the skin. It usually develops in the skin of the legs, but can happen anywhere. Dog bites can cause cellulitis infections when pasteurella canis or pasteurella multocida bacteria in the dog’s saliva is passed into the skin during the bite. These bacteria are commonly found in dog’s and they tend to rapidly grow and cause infection when they get below the skin.
Symptoms of cellulitis typically occur in the first 36 hours after the bite. These symptoms usually include: redness, swelling, and tenderness around the bite wound; discharge of white puss from the wound; and skin around the wound is warm to the touch. Cellulitis can develop and spread very rapidly, especially in younger children. Cellulitis can be somewhat more difficult to treat compared to other types of infections. It often requires intravenous antibiotics followed by a course of oral antibiotics over a 10-12-day period.
Rabies from Dog Bites
Rabies is a virus infection that is transmitted from animals to humans, usually from a bite or scratch from an animal infected with the virus. If a dog with the rabies virus bites you, you have a very high likelihood of being infected with the rabies virus. Most dogs get vaccinated for rabies when they are puppies, so it is more common in wild animals like raccoons. Rabies can still occur in dogs, however.
Rabies can be extremely serious and life-threatening. Once inside the body, the rabies virus spreads rapidly and starts to attack the central nervous system. Eventually, rabies will cause inflammation in the spinal cord and brain that is fatal. The earliest signs and symptoms of rabies include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Inability to sleep
- Anxiety and mental confusion
- Numbness and partial paralysis
Immediate treatment for rabies is absolutely critical.
Can You Sue and Get Money for a Dog Bite?
Yes. Dog owners can be liable if their dog bites and injuries someone. Dog bite victims can sue the dog’s owner for negligence or, in some cases, strict liability, and recover damages for their medical expenses and pain & suffering.
Will Homeowners Insurance Pay for Dog Bites?
Yes. Personal injuries resulting from dog bites are generally covered under the personal liability section of a homeowner’s insurance policy (or renters insurance policy). Coverage limits usually range anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000.
What Is the Average Settlement Value for a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
The average settlement value in a serious dog bite case in Maryland is somewhere between $25,000 and $75,000. The value of an individual dog bite case will depend largely on how seriously the plaintiff was injured.
What Is the Average Settlement Value of a Dog Bite Case in Maryland?
According to Metro Verdicts Monthly, the median settlement or verdict in a Maryland dog bit case is $24,661. There is no data on the average dog bit case. My guess – and it is just a guess – is $100,000.
What Factors Impact the Settlement Value of Dog Bite Cases?
The 2 factors that drive the potential settlement value of dog bite cases are the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries and the amount of available insurance coverage.
How Does an Infection Impact the Settlement Value of a Dog Bite Case?
If the plaintiff develops an infection as a direct result of the dog bite, this will increase the severity level of the injury and, therefore, increase the potential settlement value of their dog bite claim.
Infections require additional medical treatment and involve more pain & suffering, so the plaintiff would be entitled to recover more in damages.
Maryland Dog Bite Lawyers
In Maryland, like most states, dog owners can be held liable in most situations if their dog bites and injures someone. Maryland dog owners can be liable under either a negligence theory or a strict liability theory, and in many situations, these incidents are covered by homeowner’s insurance. The Maryland dog bite attorneys at Miller & Zois represent victims who have been seriously injured by dog bites. Call us today at 800-553-8082 or contact us online for a free consultation.