What Happens If a Dog Bite is Fatal?

Dog bites happen…

…an average of 4.5 million times per year in the U.S. alone. Many of them are serious—almost 1,000 people visit the E.R. for dog bite treatment each day—and a small but significant number are fatal. Between 30 and 50 Americans each year are killed by dog bites.

When a dog bite is fatal

The Dunbar Bite Scale classifies the severity of dog bites across six levels. The most severe is a LEVEL 6—DEATH OF THE VICTIM AND/OR FLESH CONSUMED. Dogs who commit a Level 6 bite are not safe to be around humans, or even other dogs. Pending the result of an investigation, these dogs are nearly always recommended for euthanasia.

Various states have different Dangerous Dog Laws. In Ohio, Section 955.28 of the Ohio Revised Code states that: “The owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog, unless the injury, death, or loss was caused to the person or property of an individual who, at the time, was committing or attempting to commit criminal trespass or another criminal offense other than a minor misdemeanor on the property of the owner, keeper, or harborer, or was committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense other than a minor misdemeanor against any person, or was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog on the owner’s, keeper’s, or harborer’s property.”

In short, unless the victim of the dog attack was commiting a crime on the owner’s property, or was abusing the animal on the owner’s property, the owner is liable for damages.

By law, any dog bite, no matter how serious or insignificant, should be reported to the animal control authorities. However, when the dog attack leads to death, the police must immediately be contacted.

If the dog has a history of aggressive behavior

If a dog poses a danger to people, if it has a history of aggressive behavior which the owner knew about, and did not take all necessary precautions, then it may escalate beyond damage liability. In some cases the owner can be charged with manslaughter, even murder.

If your loved one is killed by a dog

Dog bite settlements are worth between $30,000 and $50,000 on average, depending on the severity of the injury, the liability laws where the incident happened, and the statute of limitations. In the case of the death of the victim, a surviving spouse, dependents, or the estate of the victim may sue for wrongful death. Wrongful death compensation depends on a great variety of factors. Given that, there is no average settlement amount, but it is often in the millions of dollars.

Dog bite incidents, particularly when they result in death, are complex, many-faceted, and emotional. When hiring a lawyer for a wrongful death suit because of a dog attack, be sure they have the experience, staff and resources necessary to recover the proper compensation.

If a family member has been killed in a dog bite incident, contact the dog bite attorneys at LaSalvia Law. We will fight to win you the compensation you deserve.

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You can expect to hear from Christine 1-2 days after submitting your inquiry.

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Pay nothing up front. No fee until your case is settled or tried to a jury.