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Dog Bite PTSD

Dog Bites and PTSD are often debilitating and victims should seek out the help of a skilled Personal Injury Attorney.

Animal attacks of all types can be physically devastating to the victim. The physical injuries can be severe.  The extent of the injuries can range from bruising and lacerations to disfigurement or loss of limbs or appendages.  Dog bites tend to be the most common form of animal attack because dogs are more commonly owned than any other animal capable of causing injury from an attack.  Florida Statute 767.04 (2014) addresses issues related to liability on behalf of dog owners.

Unfortunately, the damage from a dog bite doesn’t necessarily end with the physical injuries.  Because of the particularly aggressive manner in which they occur, victims of animal attacks often suffer emotional trauma for months, or even years, following the attack.  Such emotional trauma is particularly true if the attack caused physical disfigurement.  Especially disfigurement to the face, neck, hands, or other commonly visible areas of the body.  Plastic surgery can help to repair such damage, but it is not always 100%.  Even if the physical scars are removed, the emotional scars remain.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common consequence of a dog bite.  PTSD can be suffered by both children and adults.   In general, PTSD is a mental health problem that arises after a victim experiences a traumatic event.  PTSD and the associated mental anguish can be triggered through being assaulted by another person; or as described above, attacked by an animal.  Symptoms of PTSD generally fall into one of three categories:

  1. Victims may re-live the event over and over again through a serious of flashbacks. These can occur in the victim’s dreams, which contributes to sleeplessness or a fear of falling asleep; which, in turn, increases feelings of anxiety during waking hours.
  2. Other signs of PTSD fall into the avoidance Avoidance symptoms manifest themselves in ways such as lack of interest in daily activities, avoiding people or places that remind the victim of the traumatizing event, or otherwise isolating oneself from others.
  3. Finally, arousal symptoms cause the victim to have difficulty concentrating and/or sleeping.  Such symptoms cause further anxiety.

Victims suffering from these various symptoms often over react to minor situations.  Such overreaction can take the form of becoming overaggressive, isolation, or other anti – social behaviors.

Following a dog attack, victims often have severe anxiety associated with the event.  It’s not uncommon for the victim to incapable of being around animals of any kind.  Victims described as animal lovers before an attack have been forced to give up their own pets due to the emotional trauma suffered after the attack.

The resulting anxiety is not limited to animals. Research shows that victims of animal attacks often exhibit symptoms of PTSD in every aspect of their lives and lead the victim to avoid activities they once enjoyed, as well as with other people for extended periods of time. This leads to a greatly diminished quality of life.

While dog attacks are not limited to any specific age group, children are the most common victims of animal attacks. The Center for Disease Control and the American Veterinarian Association report that most dog bites happen to children ages 5-7.  Florida Statute 767.04 (2014) addresses the liability a dog owner has to children ages 6 and under. Most of those attacks are to the child’s face and neck. Children are at a particularly higher risk for developing PTSD following an animal attack because the event is indeed horrifying to child.  There is often large amounts of blood loss and physical pain.  In addition, almost half of child dog bites are inflicted by a trusted family pet. In most instances, the family pet has to be put down causing the child to face the additional emotional trauma of losing his/her best friend. Additionally, children are much more observant than we tend to believe. As such, children can see the change in their parent’s faces or mannerisms.  They feel the tension and guilt felt by his/her parents whenever the attack is mentioned. This causes the child to stop talking about the event completely, choosing instead to keep his/her emotions bottled up internally.

If you or someone you know has been attacked by an animal, please keep the following PTSD symptoms in mind so that you can seek the appropriate medical care.

  • Night terrors/nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Serious anxiety
  • Emotional unresponsiveness
  • Confusion
  • Avoidance of other people or activities
  • Paranoia
  • Physical manifestations like headaches or insomnia

In addition to seeking proper medical treatment for PTSD, victims of a dog bite should also be aware that they may be able to recover for the emotional as well as physical damage from the attacking dog’s owner. The mental anguish suffered by the victim as a result of an animal attack is a real and recoverable part of your personal injury claim.

For more information on the emotional damage caused by animal attacks, or if you have suffered from PTSD symptoms following an attack, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group, for a free consultation and case evaluation. 727-451-6900.