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A dog attack can be a frightening, traumatizing experience. Injuries incurred from this event can also result in substantial medical bills for treatment, as well as other financial strain if the bites were severe. If the dog was not enclosed in the owner’s yard, the owner or keeper of the animal might be held liable for any injuries and damages you suffered as a result of the attack.

Personal injury caused by an animal attack can be painful and frightening, but superior legal representation can help you pursue compensation for your treatment and lost wages due to time spent recuperating. If you have experienced a dog attack in Rhode Island, Archambault Law offers personal injury legal services to ensure you have the resources necessary to heal from your injuries and get back on your feet.

The Incidence of Dog Bites

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that around 4.5 million dog bites happen in the United States annually. As many as 20 percent of those bites become infected, resulting in additional injury and the need for more medical treatment. There are a variety of injuries that can occur as a result of a dog bite:

  • Lacerations, sometimes requiring stitches
  • Puncture wounds, ranging from mild to deep
  • Bruises and abrasions
  • Joint dislocations and bone fractures
  • Crush injuries, particularly around the neck and head
  • Amputations

The list ranges from relatively minor wounds to debilitating and life-changing injuries. People that are bitten by dogs often undergo significant medical treatment, including rabies shots if it is unknown whether the dog had been sufficiently vaccinated. In severe cases, reconstructive surgery may be needed, and treatment for the injuries may continue for weeks, months or even years.

Rhode Island Dog Bite Statutes

Dog bites fall under the strict liability category according to Rhode Island statutes. Strict liability encompasses liability for harm that is not the result of negligence or an intent to cause damage. It applies any time a dog attacks a person outside the confines of its own enclosed area. If the attack occurs within the dog’s enclosure, common law liability applies and the victim must show the owner of the animal knew it had a propensity to attack and bite to pursue compensation – recognized in Rhode Island as the “one-bite” rule.

Rhode Island also distinguishes between first and second dog bites. If the dog that attacks has bitten a person before, the victim may be entitled to receive double compensation. A bite is not the only type of attack that could qualify for compensation to the victim. If a dog knocks you down or scares you and causes you to fall, injuries incurred from those events may also be eligible for compensation.

What is a vicious dog?

If a dog is categorized as a vicious dog, it can impact the amount of compensation you receive, or whether you are entitled to compensation if the bite occurred within the dog’s enclosed area. A vicious dog in Rhode Island is one characterized by the following:

  • A dog the approaches a person aggressively or with an apparent intention to attack when unprovoked
  • Dogs that are known for their likelihood to attack or cause injury when unprovoked
  • A dog that has previously bitten or otherwise attacked a human or another animal
  • Dogs that are specifically bred or kept for the purpose of fighting

A dog may not be declared vicious if the aggressive action or attack was caused by teasing, abusing or otherwise provoking the animal. The vicious dog statute also does not apply to dogs that showed aggressive action or attacked a person trespassing on the property where the dog was enclosed.

When a dog is determined to be vicious, the owner has legal responsibilities to protect the public from the animal. When those responsibilities are not met, the owner is automatically liable for injuries sustained in an attack, including the possibility of additional fines.

Proving Your Case and Receiving Compensation

Anyone that is suddenly attacked by a loose dog on the street is potentially eligible for compensation for their injuries. If you have been a victim of a dog attack, it is important for you to contact our law firm right away. We will provide you with a free case review, and if your complaint is viable, we will work to ensure you receive all the compensation you are entitled to under Rhode Island law. While we represent your rights and interest in your case, you can focus on healing from your injuries and moving forward with your life. To learn more, contact Archambault Law today at 401-231-9700.

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