Can Dog Bites Have Long-Term Effects?

A dog attack can result in minor scrapes and bruises to severe long-term injuries that require surgery and leave permanent scars. From physical reminders of the dog bite incident to long-lasting emotional harm, a dog attack can have a wide range of significant effects on a victim. In Nevada, a dog bite victim can recover financial compensation from a negligent dog owner.

Image of barking dogs with text "potential long term effects of dog bites"

Physical Effects

Minor to severe dog bite injuries can leave a victim with permanent physical effects. Puncture wounds and lacerations can leave behind scar tissue that presents a constant reminder of the attack. In a more severe case, a dog attack can cause a high level of disfigurement – especially when a victim’s face is involved. Even with reconstructive surgeries and scar revisions, a dog bite victim may never look the same. These physical changes can inflict a great deal of emotional shock and distress on the victim.

Lifelong Disability

Many dog bite victims suffer lifelong disabilities from the attack. A dog’s teeth and claws can inflict immense harm on the body’s soft tissues, muscles, tendons, nerves and bones. A full recovery may not be attainable for someone who survives a severe attack. The victim may have to live with permanent disabilities, such as: 

  • Amputations or lost digits
  • Chronic pain
  • Complications from infection
  • Crushed bones
  • Hearing loss
  • Loss of mobility
  • Nerve damage
  • Organ damage or internal injuries
  • Spinal cord damage or paralysis
  • Torn or severed tendons
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Vision damage or loss

If a victim is a child, an elderly person or attacked by multiple dogs, the chances of suffering a permanent disability are higher. Disabling dog bite injuries change a victim’s life forever, potentially resulting in the loss of the ability to work or live independently. The victim may need lifelong medical treatments, such as therapy, rehabilitation, medication and assistive devices.

Emotional Trauma 

The abrupt and violent nature of a dog attack, as well as life-changing injuries or disfigurement, can cause victims to develop long-term psychological disorders. This can include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, cynophobia (fear of dogs), agoraphobia (fear of any place or situation where escape might be difficult), and other mental health conditions. These conditions can take away a victim’s ability to enjoy daily life, spend time with loved ones, and participate in favorite hobbies and activities. 

Seeking Compensation for a Serious Dog Bite Injury in Nevada

Nevada does not have a dog bite law. Instead, the courts rely on case precedents to decide on a pet owner’s liability. In general, a dog bite victim in Nevada can use the legal doctrine of negligence to hold a pet owner financially responsible for his or her losses. Negligence refers to the failure of a pet owner to exercise reasonable or ordinary care to prevent an attack.

If the dog had bitten someone previously, for example, the dog owner would have a legal responsibility to recognize the dog’s vicious propensities and take steps to prevent a second or subsequent attack, such as keeping the dog muzzled or secured within a fence. The failure to take reasonable care to prevent a dog bite incident could be proof of negligence in a personal injury claim. 

For more information about holding a pet owner accountable for a life-changing dog attack, contact the Las Vegas dog bite injury attorneys at Koch & Brim, LLP for a free case review.