Each state has different laws that apply when someone is bitten or attacked by someone else’s pet. In most cases, these bites or attacks are perpetrated by a dog. Alaska law requires that all bites be reported, but many times victims and the owners of the dog know each other or may even be family members. This makes handling a dog bite case difficult in some instances.
Facts About Animal Bites
Every year, nearly five million people in the United States suffer from animal bites, and about 20 percent of these bites require medical treatment. About half of all patients treated for animal bites are children, most between the ages of five and nine.
In Alaska, dog bites are the predominant type of animal bite seen in hospital emergency rooms. These bites can range from very minor cuts to serious, life-threatening attacks. Children in particular are very vulnerable to serious harm from both mauling and later infection from dog bites.
How To Protect Yourself and Your Family
There are several things that you can do and can teach your children to do, to help avoid dog bites.
First, watch for warning signs. Dogs that display aggressive behavior such as growing, hackles raising on the back, tail up or ears back, should be avoided. Never allow your child to approach or pet a dog without knowing if the animal is friendly. Preferably, the owner should be present and should command the dog to sit and be under his or her control before introducing the dog to another person.
If you or a family member is bitten by a dog, immediately flush the wound and wash it with soap and warm water. Apply a light, sterile dressing and seek immediate medical attention. If you do not know the dog or owner, try to find out that information as soon as possible so that the animal can be checked for vaccinations.
What Does Alaska Law Say About Dog Bites?
Alaska follows what is known as the “one-bite rule.” This means that the owner of a dog can be held liable for the dog biting or attacking someone if he or she knew or should have known the dog was dangerous. This is often due to the fact that the animal has bitten or attempted to bite someone before, leading to the name of the “one bite rule.” While many people interpret this to mean that the dog gets “one free bite,” that is not necessarily the case. If the dog is clearly aggressive, the owner may be liable if the dog attacks someone even without having first bitten another person.
Additionally, third parties in Alaska can also be held liable if they were aware of a dangerous animal on the premises and did nothing to prevent the attack. This rule could apply, for example, if a landlord allowed a tenant to keep a dangerous dog on his or her property and the dog attacked an innocent child.
What Can I Do About My Dog Bite Claim?
If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, it is important to protect your legal rights, even if you know the dog’s owner. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and other costs. At Barber & Associates, we work with victims to ensure that they are protected after an animal attack. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help.