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Compensation for Dog Bites: Medical Expenses, Lost Wages & More

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Dog showing teeth.
April 26, 2024

Dogs, affectionately called man’s best friend, are a beloved pet in many homes across the nation. However, there are times when a dog may attack unexpectedly. In fact, more than 800,000 people require medical attention each year for a dog bite, according to one source.

Although victims of dog attacks can be left with minor injuries, far too often, the injuries tend to be severe and life-changing. If you or your loved one has been the victim of a dog attack, you may rightly seek to recover compensation for dog bite injuries. You may be entitled to receive more compensation than medical costs and lost wages.

Establishing Liability in a Dog Bite Case

Each state has established its own dog bite laws. According to Georgia law (Ga. Code § 51-2-7), the owner of a dog that bites someone is liable for providing compensation if the victim can prove:

  • The dog’s owner knew the dog was dangerous 
  • The owner allowed the dog to go at liberty
  • The victim did not provoke the dog
  • The victim’s injuries are a direct result of the aggressive behavior of the dog

Evidence would be needed to prove such facts in order to hold the owner of the dog liable for damages. Proof can be obtained from surveillance cameras, eyewitness testimony, social media, veterinarian offices, medical records, and many other sources.

Common Types of Economic Compensation for Dog Bite Cases

Dog bite cases come under the umbrella of personal injury law, which exists to protect your rights regarding any injury you may suffer as a result of the negligent or reckless actions of someone else. The intent of personal injury law is to dissuade others from committing the same offense, in addition to restoring as much as possible of what the injured person has lost. 

In all personal injury cases, such as dog bites, there are two categories for compensation for damages: economic and non-economic. Some of the most common types of economic compensation awarded in dog bite cases include the following.

Medical expenses

Medical bills for treating a dog bite may accumulate quickly. Expenses for treatment in the emergency room, operations, lab tests, and prescribed medicines are very costly. As such, a dog bite victim is entitled to seek compensation for any medical bills that result from treatment for injuries sustained in the attack. 

In some cases, long-term medical care is needed to try to make the person whole again. Therefore, medical expense compensation must also include future medical expenses for surgeries, physical therapy, and chiropractic services. Also included would be any medical equipment that the victim would need to use, such as wheelchairs, crutches, or walkers.

Lost wages

While receiving treatment for injuries from the dog bite, the injured person may lose several days of work. He or she could seek compensation for all lost income. 

Lost income could be lost wages for regular working hours, any potential overtime, and sick leave that could have been received had the attack not occurred. 

Lost income may also include potential future earnings, such as raises and promotions. In some cases, a dog bite victim’s injuries are so severe that his or her ability to perform the same type of work is no longer possible. If the person is relegated to accept only part-time work or a lower-paying job, income lost due to this adjustment could be included in the compensation claim as well. 

Household renovation and services

In cases of an aggressive dog attack, the victim may be left with a permanent disability. This may necessitate renovations having to be done in his or her home. 

Some of these renovations may include:

  • The installation of ramps and handrails
  • Modifying bathrooms and doorways
  • Lowering counters

In addition to home renovations, the victim may require assistance with performing chores that he or she did prior to the dog attack. Such simple tasks as cleaning, cutting the grass, and caring for children may now require paying others to assist. Expenses for these services could be included in the victim’s compensation claim.

Out-of-pocket costs 

In the aftermath of a dog bite incident, there might be unforeseen out-of-pocket expenses that need to be included in a victim’s compensation claim. Parking fees, the cost of traveling to and from appointments for follow-up care, hotel stays, and meals are just some of the unexpected costs that a dog bite victim might be facing.

Wrongful death

Sadly, in some cases, an aggressive dog attack may take the life of a victim. When this occurs, the family may pursue compensation for funeral and burial expenses, which can be very costly. Compensation can also be sought for the loss of financial support the deceased may have provided.

This list shows that economic compensation specifically refers to monetary losses. It also shows that compensation includes more than just monetary losses for medical bills and lost wages.

Common Types of Non-economic Compensation for Dog Bite Cases

Emotional trauma suffered by victims of dog bites can be deep and long-lasting. Although non-economic damages, such as emotional trauma, cannot be calculated by totaling expenses to reach a fixed dollar amount, a victim may still be awarded compensation for his or her intangible losses. Consider the following, for example.

Post-traumatic stress disorder

In the aftermath of dog bite incidents, victims may suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially children. Reliving the event of the dog bite attack, having nightmares, and developing a fear of suffering another dog bite injury are all symptoms of PTSD.


The impact of a dog’s bite in an attack may permanently disfigure a person’s face or body. This can result in the victim suffering from severe depression or low self-esteem since his or her appearance has been altered. Just being in a public setting may cause the person to feel anxious or even suffer a panic attack.

Pain and suffering

It is hard to put a price tag on the physical pain that dog bite victims must endure in the aftermath of an attack. Even while going through the treatment stages, the person may still be suffering a great deal of pain. If the person suffered very serious injuries such as traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries, the resulting pain may be excruciating and long-lasting.

Loss of enjoyment of life

When a dog attacks, especially a big dog, the victim may be thrown to the ground and suffer hip or knee injuries. Previous activities that the victim enjoyed, such as bike riding and running, may no longer be possible as a result of the attack. This change in lifestyle can leave the person depressed and suffering a lack of interest in life.

Loss of consortium

There are times when a dog attack may have a direct effect on the other members of the family. For example, great frustration may result if the victim’s sexual intimacy with his or her spouse has been affected. Additionally, a child may miss doing activities that were shared with his or her injured parent before the attack. 

Punitive damages

If a dog’s owner showed a brazen, reckless attitude without regard for the safety of others and the dog bit someone as a result, a judge or jury may award punitive damages to the victim.

Punitive damages are not considered compensatory. They are designed to punish the liable party and discourage potential future offenders.

You Can Benefit From Hiring a Dog Bite Attorney

Suffering an unexpected dog attack can be an extremely frightening experience. If this has happened to you or your loved one, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the physical and emotional changes in your life. And while it is true that you can pursue compensation for your loss on your own, there are so many reasons why it would not be wise for you to navigate the claims process alone. 

For one, the owner of the dog or his or her insurance company may try to deny your claim. The insurance adjuster may assert that you provoked the dog or you were trespassing. Adjusters are very skilled at using tactics to minimize or deny your claim.

Having the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer with your dog bite claim is invaluable. Your dog bite lawyer would know how to refute such claims by gathering evidence to prove negligence. 

The right dog bite lawyer will know how to calculate all of your damages and losses to make sure that you are fully compensated. Your personal injury attorney can even file a dog bite lawsuit if your damages exceed the limits of your insurance policy.

Our Personal Injury Lawyers Stand Ready to Assist With Your Claim 

As you can see, the law firm you choose to represent you with your dog bite claim will have a direct impact on the outcome of your case. You will also require lawyers with jurisdiction in your case.

If you were bitten by a dog in the State of Georgia, Hoffspiegel Law may be able to help. If you or someone you know was injured elsewhere in some other way, our legal team may still have legal advice that could prove to be invaluable.

So get in touch with us for answers. Our lawyers have over 30 years of experience successfully winning personal injury cases for our clients. Make the right choice and call us today to schedule a free evaluation.