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Prevalent Dog Bite Injuries and Essential Tips for How to Win a Dog Bite Case

Dog ownership is a fundamental part of life for many in the United States. A survey of pet-owning households in the U.S. revealed that approximately 65.1 million homes have at least one dog. We love our four-legged friends, as they share so much playfulness, loyalty and love with us. However, when dogs aren’t under control, they can inflict a painful bite and a deeply traumatic moment. 

Dog bites are a prevalent injury in the United States. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, and more than 800,000 individuals receive medical attention for those bites. A report from Injury Epidemiology found that dog bite injuries were ranked as the 13th leading cause of nonfatal emergency department visits. Despite strides in research, training and resources available for dog training, dog bites still happen with some regularity. 

You shouldn’t feel like a statistic if you’ve been injured from a dog bite. The emotional, psychological and physical pain you are dealing with matters, and you shouldn’t have to endure it alone. 

Learn more about dog bite injuries and how you can win your dog bite case.  

Common Dog Bite Injuries

A dog bite of any severity can be traumatizing. However, several factors can alter the outcome of a bad encounter with a canine, including your relationship with the dog, your age and the setting of the dog bite. The Injury Epidemiology review on the prevalence of dog bites explored a few common threads in dog bite incidents:

  • Many victims were school-age children. Children ages 5-9 had the highest incident rate. 
  • Bites were more likely to occur in less densely populated areas. Bites in less populated areas could be caused by several reasons, including fewer socialization opportunities for dogs or a lack of leash laws. 
  • Bite victims were more likely to live in low-income areas. A lack of resources makes it difficult for dogs to be properly spayed or neutered, leading to a higher aggression rate. A Forbes Advisor report found that unneutered male dogs were 2.6 times more likely to attack than their fixed counterparts, making up 70-76% of dog bites in the United States.

When looking at common dog bite incidents, a few of the most common injuries include:

Punctures to the Hands and Arms

Much like bracing for a fall, you use your hands and arms to defend yourself from animal bites. The Forbes Advisor report also revealed that almost half of dog bites occurred on the arms or hands. Whether it’s a playful nip or an aggressive bite, dogs have strong jaws, which can create harsh puncture wounds to the hands and arms. 

These wounds can be painful and affect your ability to work and carry out daily errands. If your hand is badly damaged from the bite, you may need stitches or, in extreme cases, reconstructive surgery. In addition to procedures for your injured hand, physical therapy may be required to gain function for essential tasks.

Leg Lacerations

In addition to your hands and arms, many dog bite victims also receive lower body injuries. A localized incidence study from the peer-reviewed journal Veterinary World saw several reported bites to the leg. 

Bites to the leg are not only painful and leave lasting discomfort, but they can make it difficult to walk or stand for long periods. If your job requires you to be on your feet, these injuries can eliminate your ability to work.

Disfiguration of the Face

Facial trauma can be difficult to recover from due to the highly sensitive structures you use daily to talk, eat and express emotion. While a facial injury can happen to anyone, a literature review from the World Journal of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery found that children were at the highest risk for facial trauma due to dog bites.

Outside of the pain associated with an injury to the face, there are several psychological and emotional aspects that can result. No matter the cause of your injury, visible scars can make it difficult for you to socialize with others and can affect your self-image. 


Infections can cause lingering illness and complicate your body’s ability to heal. The World Health Organization estimates that 3-18% of people bitten by a dog in the United States develop an infection. Zoonotic infections are especially dangerous, as we don’t have immunity to common diseases that dogs carry, such as rabies. Even if a canine bite doesn’t directly infect you, severe open wounds can easily become infected. 

In one dog bite case example, a man was bitten by his neighbor’s dog when trying to fix their shared fence. He ended up losing a finger due to the severity of the infection.  

Dog bite injuries can be challenging to live with, especially if they leave you with high medical bills, an inability to work and a lasting effect on your appearance. Negligent dog owners should be held accountable if their dog bites you unprovoked. Let’s look at some ways you can help yourself win a dog bite case.

How to Win a Dog Bite Case: Essential Steps 

If a dog has bitten you, you may have already started on this journey toward getting the compensation you need to recover. If you haven’t started down this path, you may need to review the following steps to begin:

  1. Tell the owner you’ve been bitten. If the dog’s owner is near the incident, you should inform them of your injury. Gather their contact information and ask if the dog has been vaccinated. 
  2. Wash the wound and get medical attention. Quick wound care and medical attention are essential to reducing the severity of the bite. 
  3. Document everything about your injury. Try to write down the basic facts of the injury and document your wound with pictures. Hold onto any medical documentation you receive. Every piece of evidence you have is essential to building your case. 
  4. Contact a personal injury lawyer. A skilled personal injury lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injury. It’s essential to contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible so they can start on your case right away. 

If you’re looking for an attorney to help you through your dog bite case or other personal injury, the team at Eng & Woods Attorneys at Law is here to help. Our lawyers have experience in various personal injury cases, and our passion for helping clients has pushed us to achieve countless favorable verdicts and settlements. Visit our contact page to get started.

Looking for more information about Missouri’s dog bite law? Check out our companion article that takes a look at owner liability and more. 

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