Dogs may be “man's best friend,” but even the most lovable furry companion can lash out and bite a human under the right—or, rather, wrong—circumstances. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 4.7 million dog bite attacks occur in the United States each year. Nearly 800,000 of those dog bite victims seek some form of medical care for their wounds, while approximately 334,000 suffer injuries significant enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room.
Injuries sustained in a non-fatal dog bite attack can include contusions, broken bones, lacerations which may become infected, and nerve damage. Though nerve damage may not seem like an obvious dog bite injury, it is a surprisingly common injury among the victims of dog bite attacks. Dogs may be domesticated, but they still retain the sharp teeth and jaw strength of their wilder wolf counterparts. Studies show that when large dogs bite, they can apply between 200 and 300 pounds of pressure per square inch. When these bites occur in areas where the nerves run just under the skin—such as the neck, torso, thighs, stomach or hands— some nerve damage is almost inevitable.
If you suffered nerve damage and other injuries in a dog bite attack, you may be entitled to compensation from the animal's owner. Here's what you need to know before taking legal action.
Types of Nerve Damage Associated With Dog Bite Injuries
Healthy nerves allow for the relay of messages between the brain and the various parts of the body. When nerves sustain damage, it can prevent the relay of messages which, in turn, can affect sensory and motor functions. However, how nerve damage affects the body depends largely on the severity and location of the dog bite injuries.
When a dog bites and its teeth puncture the skin, it can also sever nerves in the process. Even if a dog's teeth don't penetrate the skin, the crushing power of the jaws can deliver enough force to compress, stretch, or tear nerves. There are three specific types of nerve damage that can occur in dog bite attacks. These include:
- Neurapraxia. Often caused by the compression of a nerve, neurapraxia is the least serious of the three types of dog bite nerve damage. It can cause a temporary loss of sensation and motor functions that can last for hours, days, weeks or even months. However, with the proper medical support, most dog bite attack victims with neurapraxia recover fully over time.
- Axonotmesis. Dog bite attack victims whose nerves were severely stretched, but not severed, may suffer from a more serious form of nerve damage known as axonotmesis. This kind of nerve damage can lead to paralysis, though this paralysis often proves to be temporary. While most victims with axonotmesis recover, a full recovery can take weeks, months or even years.
- Neurotmesis. When nerves are completely severed or damaged beyond repair, dog bite attack victims may be diagnosed with neurotmesis. This is the most serious type of dog bite nerve damage. Most victims with neurotmesis suffer permanent damage that results in a permanent loss of sensation or function. However, in some cases, prompt medical treatment and long-term rehabilitative therapies can help victims make at least a partial recovery.
Consult a Knowledgeable Personal Injury Lawyer With Experience Handling Dog Bite Cases
When nerve damage sustained in a dog bite attack affects a victim's sensory and motor functions, it can also dramatically impact other areas of their lives. Victims may require expensive and extensive medical care to recover or, if recovering from their injuries isn't possible, to manage their symptoms. If they are unable to perform the job they were doing prior to the attack, they may find themselves forced into a different position that pays less.
If you were diagnosed with nerve damage following a dog bite attack, the experienced attorneys with the Inland Empire Law Group can review the facts of your case and help you explore your options for compensation. Contact us today at (888) 694-3529 to schedule an appointment for a free initial case analysis.