Americans love their pets. In fact, according to recent statistics, 85 million families in the United States have a pet. Not surprisingly, dogs are the most popular type of pet, with just over 60 million households having one. While many people think of their dog as a loyal companion, this type of animal is also known to bite and cause serious injuries.

Here are five things you should know about dog bite injuries.

1. Know How to Protect Yourself From Dog Bites

One of the first things you can do to protect yourself is understand why dogs bite. Some of these reasons include:

The dog is feeling stressed.
The dog is defending itself or its territory.
The dog is protecting toys, food, or other valuables.
The dog is scared or startled.
The dog is sick or sore and wants to be left alone.

There are also certain breeds that are more prone to biting people. The breeds that are considered some of the most dangerous include pit bulls, Rottweilers, German shepherds, American bulldogs, and huskies. In order to protect yourself against dog bites, you should always be extra vigilant when encountering any of these breeds.

You should teach your children to be cautious as well. You should also remember that despite the fact that some breeds are more prone to biting than other breeds, any dog, even the cuddliest and most even-tempered breed, may bite when threatened.

2. Know the Types of Injuries Dog Bites Cause

Unfortunately, even when doing all you can to protect yourself, you might still get bitten by a dog. Because of their sharp teeth, a dog bite can easily cause puncture wounds and injuries to the eyes, face, head, and neck. Dog bites can also cause extreme amounts of blood loss, serious infections, ugly scars, and permanent nerve damage.

These types of injuries are usually serious enough to warrant a visit to the emergency room. In some cases, dog bite injuries even cause the victim to become hospitalized. Unfortunately, hospitalizations due to dog bite injuries are becoming increasingly common in Arizona.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, during a four-year period, the number of inpatient hospitalizations from dog bites increased 139 percent. In those four years, 2,358 people were hospitalized for at least one night after getting bitten by a dog, and more than 34,000 people were treated in the emergency room.

3. Know What to Do After a Dog Bites You

If you get bitten by a dog that does not belong to you, the first thing you should do is get medical attention right away. Also take pictures of your wounds, which will help if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against the owner of the dog. You will need to get the dog owner’s contact information as well.

If other people witnessed the incident, you should also get their contact information. In order to prevent the dog from injuring others, you will need to file a report with animal control.

As you recover from your injuries, assess your mental health status, as some dog bites can cause emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If you have experienced either of these, you may want to see a mental health counselor.

4. Know the Legal Ramifications of a Dog Bite

Not all dog bites result in a personal injury case. However, if you can prove that the dog’s owner acted irresponsibly, you should file a personal injury case. For instance, if the dog owner did not have their dog on a leash, and then it attacked you when you walked by, the owner should be held responsible.

You will also need to prove that you did not provoke the dog in any way and that you were legally allowed to be in the place where the dog bit you. If you can prove that the owner should be responsible, the dog’s owner will have to compensate you for the following:

Medical costs, including doctor and hospital bills, medications, physical therapy, counseling, and any other type of necessary treatment
Pain and suffering associated with the dog bite or dog attack
Loss of wages due to treatment and recovery from injuries

In some states, dogs are allowed one free bite before legal action is taken against the owner. This is not the case in Arizona, as the state does not have a one-bite law.

5. Know Who to Contact After a Dog Bites You

If a dog has bitten you, and now you wish to seek legal action against the owner, discuss your injuries with an attorney to learn about your options. If you live in Arizona, contact Garrison Law Firm. Our experienced legal team offers free consultations for personal injury cases and will help you get the compensation you deserve.