How Your Dog Can Cause Injuries Even if They Don’t Bite

Bites are among the most common ways dogs may attack, but they can also cause harm even without sinking their teeth into someone.

Although dogs are generally known for their loyal and friendly nature, they have the potential to injure people. Bites are among the most common ways dogs may attack, but they can also cause harm even without sinking their teeth into someone.

Because dogs come in all shapes and sizes, they pose different types of injury risks. A large dog like a German Shepherd that suddenly charges at a pedestrian can knock them to the sidewalk. The person may suffer serious injuries like fractures, spinal damage or head trauma from falling on the hard surface. The sudden movements that occur due to an unexpected dog attack can also lead to debilitating injuries like whiplash, which take a long time to heal.

An attack by a smaller dog, on the other hand, may not result in impact injuries. However, it can cause cuts and similar wounds due to scratching or clawing. Here are some of the ways in which dogs can cause painful injuries:

  • Jumping: Dogs have a natural tendency to jump up to express excitement or greet people. While this behavior is usually harmless, a large or strong dog can knock someone over. For example, an unrestrained dog in a yard may pounce on a postal worker delivering mail, knocking them to the ground. The worker may suffer injuries such as bruises, sprains or even fractures.
  • Pushing or shoving: Dogs may push or shove when trying to reach something or get past someone. Their forceful movements can cause a person to lose balance, leading to falls and potential injuries. When two dogs get into an altercation, for instance, their owners or bystanders may get injured in the process of trying to separate them.
  • Scratching or clawing: Besides teeth, dogs also have sharp claws that can pierce skin. Dogs may scratch or claw at people, especially during play or if they are excited. Their nails can cause cuts or incisions that can pose a risk of infection.
  • Running or chasing: Many dog breeds are known for their agility and speed. Dogs may inadvertently collide with people while running or chasing objects. Colliding with a dog can result in bruises, sprains or more severe injuries. However, a dog does not necessarily have to come into direct physical contact with a person to cause injuries.
  • Overzealous play: Dogs may engage in rough play, especially with children. Their excitement can escalate, potentially leading to scratches, bruises or other more concerning injuries.

Responsible dog ownership can minimize the likelihood of injuries occurring. Dog owners have a duty to leash their pets in public places. Proper training, socialization and supervision can also help prevent dog attacks.

Each year, a high number of dog attacks are reported among postal and delivery workers. Dog owners can take steps like keeping their dogs indoors or restrained when mail is being delivered to minimize interactions between strangers and their dog.

In Illinois, a person who is attacked by a dog can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation, even if they were not bitten. Any injuries that arise from a dog attack count as part of the claim. For instance, if your dog causes someone to trip and fall and break their leg, the individual has a right to file a claim.

Under state law, dog owners can be held liable for injuries caused by their dogs regardless of whether the animal has a history of aggression or known aggressive tendencies. Dog attack victims can pursue compensation for medical bills and wages lost due to time off work during their recovery period. In Illinois, it is also possible to recover non-economic damages for emotional distress caused by a dog attack.

To establish a claim for damages without being bitten, the victim would have to demonstrate the harm they suffered, such as scratches, bruises, broken bones, back injuries, mental trauma or other injuries resulting from the incident. Documenting the injuries and seeking medical attention promptly after the attack can help support the case.

Because there are certain time limits involved with filing a legal claim, it is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for dog bite claims is typically two years from the date of the incident.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, reach out to an experienced Chicago dog bite attorney. Briskman Briskman & Greenberg has experience handling all types of dog attack cases, even ones that do not actually involve bites. We will assess the details of your case and guide you through your legal options.

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