It has often been said that individuals under hypnosis cannot be induced to commit any action that would be out of keeping with their character; that the power of suggestion cannot turn a reserved, well-behaved person into a social deviant with a criminal bent. While it is true that a personality change requires much more than a swinging pendulum and a soporific voice, everyone has a breaking point at which they will resort to desperate measures, whether hypnotized or not. The same is true of dogs: Like humans under duress, dogs sometimes overreact to stressful situations.
Accordingly, assumptions about dog bite injuries can blind owners and others to the real risks of dog bite injuries and the dangers associated with them. Rampant misconceptions of this kind can make dog bite injuries more likely and make it difficult to heal from them. Following are the three of the most harmful myths about dog bite injuries in Utah and clarifications of the actual status quo.
1. All dogs that bite are vicious.
Like human beings who believe that they or their loved ones may be in danger, dogs that feel threatened are more prone to aggressive behavior than they are under normal circumstances. The mildest family pet may be provoked by dominant body language, trespassing on what they see as their territory, and unwelcome contact on the part of those who are not members of their family. The behavior dogs exhibit toward their caretakers is not necessarily indicative of their behavior around all humans and may be genuinely baffling to those to whom they are loyal. It is therefore the dog owner’s responsibility to keep their dog contained, whether in a fenced property or on a leash. A dog’s reactions to people cannot be predicted with total accuracy; allowing a dog free rein of the neighborhood only allows them to mark out territory that is not theirs and possibly endanger any neighbors who may unwittingly invade it.
2. Dogs don’t have germy mouths—only cat bites get infected.
The myth persists that, while dogs bite more often than cats, their bites are usually less dangerous. The logic is that a cat’s teeth, being smaller and more pointed than a dog’s, penetrate flesh more deeply and cause infection, whereas dog bites usually only leave bruises or shallow lacerations. While cat’s teeth do penetrate more deeply, this fact should not downplay the potential of a dog bite to lead to infection—as a full a fifth of them do. The seriousness of even an apparently superficial dog bite injury should not be dismissed without the opinion of a medical professional.
3. Owners are accountable for the actions of dogs who have a violent history.
In cases where an animal has proven menacing prior to the dog bite injury in question, leaving a paper trail may establish that the owner had reason to anticipate the threat. However, the absence of a paper trail should not deter the Utah injury victim from seeking compensation, as §18-1-1 holds that “it shall not be necessary in any action brought therefor to allege or prove that such dog was of a vicious or mischievous disposition or that the owner or keeper thereof knew that it was vicious or mischievous.” Not only is it the owner’s job to take preventative measures, obey leash laws, etc.; the law leaves no room for alternative interpretations.
However clearly the law may read concerning dog bite liability, the insurance claims process and the problem of confronting a dog owner might not be so simple. Whether the process proves mildly obstructive or flatly combative, legal obstacles to needed compensation are the last thing a dog bite injury victim wants or deserves. To make matters worse, those making appeals to their insurance provider to no avail are often told that the deal they are offered is their only option, and that they can either take it or leave empty-handed.
Fortunately, this is not the case. Personal injury attorneys Christensen & Hymas are seasoned lawyers well-practiced in negotiating fair settlements with dog owners and insurance agents alike. If you are experiencing adversity in the pursuit of funds to pay medical bills, cover missed work, etc., call Christensen & Hymas for a free consultation at (801) 506-0800 or request their free dog bite booklet at UtahAccidentBooks.com.
Image courtesy of Kevin