Dog Bite Injuries (Emotional Scarring)
The more than 4.5 million people who are victims of dog bites each year may suffer from something far worse than the painful lacerations and fractured bones that caused the hospitalization of 600 people in Florida. The emotional scarring from a dog bite can be just as debilitating and in need of treatment as the physical injuries.
Strict liability of dog owners in Florida
The owner of a dog that bites someone can be held strictly liable for the payment of compensation for the injuries suffered by a victim. Victims are not required under Florida law to prove that the owner was aware of the dog’s inclination toward biting. As long as the attack occurred in a public place or on private property that the victim was lawfully on, the owner of the dog can be held liable.
The “show me” attitude of insurance adjusters
Emotional scarring is a serious and debilitating consequence of a dog bite, but insurance companies make it difficult for victims seeking compensation because it is an injury that cannot be seen. Insurance claims adjusters may try to avoid paying a claim for psychological injuries because of a concern that a victim could be faking or exaggerating.
Psychologists and other mental health professionals have long understood that dog bites are extremely traumatic events that can cause serious emotional injuries affecting a person long after the physical injuries have healed. Some of the symptoms of emotional scarring may include:
- Difficulty concentrating at work or at school
- Fear of dogs
- Fear of leaving the house
- Irritability and antisocial behavior
- Flashbacks of the dog attack
The effects of a dog bite may include post-traumatic stress disorder. The severity of the emotional reaction can depend upon the circumstances surrounding the attack. For example, a person bitten by a dog might have an emotional reaction that is completely different from the harm suffered by someone who is set upon by a pack of dogs.
Treating emotional scarring caused by a dog bite
Some of the treatments available for the emotional injuries suffered by a dog bite victim include:
- Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Used with adults and children who are older than
10 years of age, this form of therapy attempts to decrease fears through supportive psychotherapy.
- Eye Movement Desensitization Response: Patient is encouraged to think about the dog attack while
a mental health professional works with them on relaxation techniques and eye movements.
- Play Therapy: Useful in young children under 10 years of age. This form of therapy tries offer
reassurance of parental protection in the event of a threat of a future dog bite or attack.
- In Vivo Desensitization: This might involve having a therapist accompany the dog-bite victim to
someplace where they will encounter dogs in a controlled setting, such as an animal shelter or pet
store, in which the dogs are confined so as to eliminate any chance of the victim being threatened
A lawyer can help victims recover compensation for emotional scarring
Dog bite victims who suffer from emotional scarring are as entitled to compensation for the damages they have incurred as are victims with physical scarring. The compassionate attorneys at The Felicetti Law Firm P.C. are dedicated advocates for the rights of dog bite victims throughout Florida.
If you or a loved one has suffered emotional scarring or physical injury from a dog bite, call us today at (800) 707-1954 to schedule an appointment. You may also use the convenient contact form on our website.