German Shepherd Attacks
July 16, 2019 | Dog Bites
Over 17 years in the U.S., the most common dog breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club in fatal dog attacks were pit bulls, Rottweilers, and German shepherds.
German shepherds are common family dogs and gentle, but all dogs can grow dangerous in a hostile environment.
Bites and attacks by German shepherds can lead to extremely serious injuries and damage that can leave a bite victim with physical and emotional trauma. Because of these injuries, the dog bite victim might undergo medical treatment, incur significant medical expenses, and miss long periods from their work.
If you were the victim of a German shepherd attack in Missouri, the Dixon Injury Firm created this guide to offer information on dog bite law and provide support during this trying time. For more information on what to do if you are injured in a German shepherd attack, feel free to contact our dog bite lawyers in St. Louis now.
German Shepherd Attack Statistics
About 800,000 people require medical treatment for dog bite injuries in the United States every year, and dozens more die in fatal dog attacks. According to a recent study on dog bite fatalities, German shepherds were responsible for roughly ten percent of the 49 dog bite fatalities in the U.S. in a single year.
German shepherds, if left untrained and unsocialized, can become dangerous, unruly, and aggressive. Weighing between 50 to 90 pounds, if a German shepherd attacks a young child, which accounts for 50 percent of dog bite attacks, the victim will likely suffer severe or fatal injuries.
With most dog bite attacks occurring in a victim’s household or at the home of a close family member or friend, German shepherd attacks are entirely preventable but a severe concern in Missouri. If you suffer injuries in a German shepherd attack, under Missouri law, victims can recover damages from the dog’s owner or the dog owner’s homeowner insurance policy.
Dog bite laws vary by state, so you need a lawyer who knows the laws in the state where the attack occurred.
Are German Shepherds Dangerous?
While German shepherds are a great choice for those who want a guard dog, they are still potentially dangerous. It’s simple to get a dog trainer and give a dog the obedience training that’s necessary to ensure the safety of everyone they come into contact with. In fact, owners must know how to stop German shepherd aggression while still allowing them to become the guard dogs that they want.
That said, German shepherds can still be loveable and friendly dogs.
What to Do if a German Shepherd Attacks You
German shepherd attacks can happen because of negligence by the owner in training the dog, failing to properly leash the animal, improper restraints such as fencing, the victim trespassing on someone else’s property, or the victim provoking the dog. It doesn’t matter why it happens—German shepherd attacks in the U.S. are preventable.
If you find yourself among the many people injured in the U.S. each year in a German shepherd attack, the first thing that you need to do is to get medical treatment. A physician needs to treat and document your injuries. It’s critical for you to know what happens after a dog bite is reported to prevent the animal from attacking other people, protect your case details, and allow the dog bite attorneys to get you the compensation you deserve from the dog owner because of the animal’s actions.
Once you’ve been examined and treated, you’ll need to involve the police and animal control. This is imperative. The police report will preserve the details regarding the incident, like what happened, who happened to be involved, when and where it occurred, if the property where it happened was public or private, and whether or not there were witnesses.
Once you file the police report, the next step is to let Animal Control know that the animal attacked you. This organization keeps records of each dog attack, and filing a claim with them can keep other people safe from dangerous dogs.
Additionally, by contacting them, you can access any previous reports against that particular dog and get owner information and vaccination reports.
Contact our office immediately after an attack so we can assist you with creating a claim against the owner of the dog and making sure an investigation occurs immediately.
Who Is Liable in a German Shepherd Attack in Missouri?
The legal system in Missouri allows German shepherd attack victims to file a claim for up to five years after the attack. Under Missouri law, if a dog attacks someone without provocation or on public property, the victim can often sue the dog’s owner and recover compensation for medical expenses, emotional and mental distress, loss of income, property damage, and loss of consortium damages caused in the attack.
This five-year statute of limitations deadline is extremely important in Missouri dog bite cases. If you were to file your claim or lawsuit even one day late, you cannot pursue the economic recovery that you need and that you deserve to recover for your dog bite injuries. Therefore, get a knowledgeable and experienced dog bite lawyer on board in your case as quickly as possible after the incident occurs.
While there are some situations where both a victim and the dog’s owner are liable for an attack, most of the time, the dog’s owner or “keeper” is the party at fault. However, in situations where both parties involved are liable in an attack, Missouri uses the rule of comparative negligence, so the victim is still eligible to recover a portion of damages from the attack.
What Happens to the Dog if It Bites Someone?
Missouri has no “one bite law,” but has passed a strict rule regarding dog bite law where euthanasia is a possibility. That means that if you suffer a bite by a German shepherd or any other dog breed, a liable owner must pay a fine of as much as $1,000.
This is a criminal fine only, and the civil case against the liable parties for injuries is often much higher. If you’re wondering if a dog that bites someone will be put down, that typically only happens if the incident causes serious harm or even death, or if the animal in question attacked anyone else before it attacked you.
If a German shepherd attacks your dog, our lawyers will let you know the answer to the question: can a dog be put down for biting another dog, too?
What Types of Injuries Are Common in St. Louis German Shepherd Dog Bite Cases?
People who suffer German shepherd bites or attacks can suffer extremely serious injuries. This is especially true if the person is attacked out of the blue and does not have time to prepare for it or run away. German shepherd attacks and bites can also have serious impacts on elderly individuals or young children.
When a German shepherd bites a person, the victim can have teeth marks on his or her skin as well as a deep wound or laceration that requires stitches. When the stitches come out and the wound finally heals, the person might still have a scar. If the scar is in a prominent place, it can cause the dog attack victim to experience a significant amount of embarrassment, humiliation, and shame.
Bites from German shepherds can leave deep puncture wounds in the attack victim’s skin, which can cause infections deep in the wound. Further complications can arise from a German shepherd bite if the dog does not have current vaccinations against rabies and other diseases.
In addition to German shepherd bite wounds, when these dogs attack a person—specifically an elderly person or a small child—they can knock the person to the ground and cause him or her to suffer a serious physical injury. For example, the person might break a bone when he or she falls to the ground or suffer a debilitating muscular contusion or another type of soft tissue injury. In addition, the dog attack victim can strike his or her head on the ground and suffer a traumatic head or brain injury in the dog attack. All of these injuries can result in the need for medical treatment that goes on for a long time.
At the scene of the incident, the dog attack victim should be sure to obtain contact information from the dog owner and possibly insurance information if the dog owner has a homeowner policy of insurance. This is because the homeowner policy coverage will likely come into play when providing settlement funds and other damages for your dog bite injuries.
The first thing that a German shepherd bite/attack victim should do after suffering an injury is to seek prompt medical attention. This medical treatment can take place at a local urgent care center or a hospital emergency room. The doctor or nurse on-call can examine the patient, clean and treat the wound, and make recommendations for follow-up treatment, depending on the injuries the bite victim sustained. In some cases, after the initial medical visit, the dog attack victim might need to consult with a primary care doctor, a medical specialist, or a surgeon, depending upon the types of injuries suffered in the incident.
If you suffered injuries in a German shepherd attack, you need knowledgeable and skilled legal counsel by your side every step of the way. The experienced St. Louis German shepherd attack lawyers at Dixon Injury Firm can discuss the incident with you as well as the injuries you suffered. We can then assist you with gathering your medical records, bills, and other documentation while you complete your medical treatment. After you have finished treatment for your injuries – or even while it is still ongoing – we can file a claim on your behalf and work to obtain a favorable settlement offer for you.
What Is a Dog Bite Personal Injury Claim, and How Do I File One?
If you were the victim of a German shepherd bite on property belonging to someone else, the dog owner may have a homeowner insurance policy to cover some or all of the injuries and damages that you suffered. Your attorney can file a claim on your behalf under this homeowner policy, seeking the medical compensation and damages that you deserve to recover. Before filing a claim, you should be sure that you have finished all of your medical treatment.
However, some dog attack victims suffer injuries to such an extent that they might require one or more procedures in the future, such as reconstructive surgery. If that is the case, a healthcare provider must state, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that this procedure is necessary. Your lawyer can include a letter from the healthcare provider setting out future treatment needs in the settlement demand package.
A settlement demand package typically starts with a demand letter that makes a monetary demand for settlement in the case within the insurance policy limits of coverage. The demand letter will talk about how the dog attack and bite allegedly occurred and the injuries the dog attack victim suffered. In cases where the dog attack victim suffered a permanent injury or incurred a significant and costly medical treatment, he or she might make a full policy demand for settlement. In addition to the demand letter, the settlement demand package should contain other important documentation.
First of all, if you have photos of the injuries you suffered in the dog attack, you should include those photographs in the package. In addition, your attorney can include copies of all the related medical bills and reports. If authorities prepared a police report or incident report after the dog bite or attack, your attorney can include it since it might address the question of fault or liability.
Finally, as part of some demand packages, the dog attack victim will prepare an impact statement for the insurance company adjuster to review. A victim impact statement describes the overall effects that the dog attack and subsequent injuries had on the person’s overall life and well-being.
Once your lawyer files a claim with the insurance company, an adjuster will oversee all aspects of the claim handling. The adjuster will review all of the documentation that you submit as part of your demand package, as well as the demand letter itself. If the insurance company accepts fault or liability for the German shepherd dog attack, the adjuster may make an initial offer to resolve the case.
Whatever that initial settlement offer is, there is likely additional money that is available to compensate you. Insurance companies often want to see if dog attack victims are in a hurry to settle and if they will accept just any offer that is on the table. Moreover, insurance companies are in business to make money, and they do this by collecting premiums from their insured. However, insurance companies lose money when they have to pay out significant monetary funds and damages. Therefore, the insurance company will try to pay out as little money as possible to satisfy your claim and save itself money.
Your attorney will likely need to negotiate with the insurance company adjuster several times before reaching a favorable settlement offer. In some instances, the insurance company is unwilling to offer dog attack victims sufficient funds. After all, the insurance company will attempt to limit your settlement however possible. When that happens, litigation is an option in your case.
Dog Bite Litigation
The litigation process begins when the dog attack victim’s lawyer files a lawsuit in the Missouri state court system. Once the lawsuit begins, though, the parties can continue working to negotiate a favorable settlement offer on your case. In fact, filing a lawsuit in the claim can sometimes be a good thing. In many instances, it will light a fire under the insurance company adjuster’s feet, so to speak, and get them to take the case seriously. In turn, the adjuster should offer more money to settle. If that does not happen, the case can proceed through the litigation process.
For example, the parties will typically exchange written answers to questions, called interrogatories, to learn more about each side’s version of events surrounding a dog attack incident. In addition, the defense attorney will likely want to take the dog attack victim’s out-of-court deposition to find out more about his or her injuries and the permanent impacts of the dog attack incident.
Once the discovery phase of the litigation is complete, insurance company adjusters will often review the case again. When that happens, they might be willing to offer more money to resolve it. If the parties cannot settle their dispute out of court, they may need to take the matter to trial. At a trial, the jury will decide all of the disputed issues.
In many instances, the primary dispute is over the damages to award the dog attack victim. Jury trials in dog attack cases are always risky ventures because when you take your case to trial, you lose control over it. When dog attack victims settle their cases, they at least maintain control over the settlement amount and the funds they can recover for their incident-related injuries and damages.
A jury can end up awarding you less, more, or about the same as the most recent settlement offer in your case.
In some dog attack cases, there are alternatives to taking a case to a jury trial. One such alternative dispute resolution mechanism is called mediation. In mediation, a neutral, third-party mediator will work to bring the parties closer to settlement. The mediator will often have breakout sessions with each party and his or her attorney to resolve the matter. Some cases resolve at mediation, but other cases do not.
Another alternative to a jury trial in a dog attack personal injury case is binding arbitration. At a binding arbitration proceeding, a neutral, third-party arbitrator will listen to both sides of the dispute and review the evidence that each side presents. The arbitrator will then decide the outcome within certain monetary parameters that the parties agreed to. A binding arbitration proceeding is not subject to an appeal.
If you or a person you care about has suffered one or more injuries as a result of a German shepherd dog attack, you have legal rights and options that are available to you. A knowledgeable and experienced St. Louis dog bite injury attorney at Dixon Injury Firm can review all of your legal options with you and help you decide whether you should accept a pending settlement offer. Your lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and welcomes the opportunity to litigate your case in the court system if that process becomes necessary.
What Types of Monetary Compensation Can I Pursue and Recover in a St. Louis Dog Bite Case?
Victims of dog attack injuries by German shepherds often require significant and expensive medical treatment for the injuries they suffer. For example, they might need to go to a hospital emergency room to have a wound tended or to receive stitches for a deep laceration. In addition, if the dog knocks them to the ground during an attack, the attack victim might suffer soft tissue injuries or even a broken bone. After receiving hospital treatment, the accident victim might need to follow up with a family doctor or with an orthopedic specialist.
All of this treatment, including the cost of medical procedures and surgeries, can be significant, and dog attack victims will find their medical bills pile up very rapidly. Fortunately, victims of German shepherd dog attacks may recover monetary compensation for everything they went through.
First of all, German shepherd attack victims can file a claim for all of their medical expenses. Medical expenses cover all related treatment bills that a dog attack victim had to incur following an incident. It can include the cost of related medical doctor visits, physical therapy sessions, and past and future medical procedures.
When it comes to a future medical procedure, a healthcare provider will need to estimate the cost based on his or her knowledge and experience. The doctor will then need to state his or her opinion to a reasonable degree of medical probability.
In addition to medical expenses, many dog attack victims have to miss time from work to recover from their injuries. They might also need to miss work time to attend medical and physical therapy appointments. All of this can result in a significant amount of lost earnings. These lost wages can become part of the dog attack victim’s claim.
In addition, some dog attack victims suffer injuries to such an extent that they can no longer work in the same field or at the same job as they did before the incident. The dog attack victim may need to find a different line of work for less pay. When that is the case, the dog attack victim can assert a claim for loss of earnings. In addition to these lost earnings, a dog attack victim can file a claim for other out-of-pocket expenses that he or she might have needed to incur as a result of the injury or injuries sustained.
All of these damages are economic damages because they are more or less measurable in terms of dollars and cents. However, dog attack victims might also be entitled to pursue and recover any non-economic damages.
These damages compensate dog attack victims for all the inconvenience, emotional anguish, mental distress, pain and suffering, and everything else that they had to go through following the German shepherd dog attack. Some dog attack victims cannot use or have limited use of a particular body part, such as an arm or a leg. Therefore, they can assert a loss of use claim.
Furthermore, some dog attack victims experience a significant loss in their quality of life because of the injuries they suffered in the incident. That can be part of a personal injury claim as well. Finally, some dog attack victims have scarring on their faces, arms, legs, and other body parts. If the scarred area is visible, it can lead to the dog attack victim experiencing feelings of embarrassment, humiliation, or shame. Those are all compensable.
If you have suffered injuries and incurred medical bills, lost wages, and other damages following a dog attack by a German shepherd, you may be entitled to one or more of these types of damages. The damages that you recover will depend primarily on the nature and extent of your injuries, and the costs and extent of the medical treatment you needed.
The knowledgeable St. Louis dog attack injury attorneys at Dixon Injury Firm can discuss all of your injuries and medical treatment with you and will make it their priority to pursue the maximum amount of compensation on your behalf. We are zealous advocates for you, both at the settlement negotiation table and in the courtroom. Our legal team will fight for your right to recover the compensation that you need and deserve for all of your dog attack injuries.
How Can a St. Louis Dog Bite Lawyer Help With My Case?
The circumstances of every attack are different, but the one thing that remains constant after a German shepherd attack is that you need to consult an experienced lawyer. The St. Louis dog bite lawyers at the Dixon Injury Firm can help every step of the way when seeking compensation for your case.
From gathering evidence to creating a strong claim, our attorneys will always be by your side, protecting the best interests of your German shepherd attack claim. Christopher Dixon has earned repeated recognition as a “Top 100 Trial Lawyer” by the National Trial Lawyers Association, and his efforts have recovered more than $50 million in settlements and recoveries for personal injury victims in St. Louis.
If you are ready to begin your German shepherd attack claim, and recover compensation for your dog bite injuries, call (314) 208-2808 or contact the St. Louis dog bite lawyers at the Dixon Injury Firm today for a free case review or consultation.