An animal attack can be a traumatizing event. No matter how friendly a dog may be throughout its life, the underlying capacity for violence is always there. Whether a dog attacks because it perceives a threat to itself, thinks its owner is in danger or is trying to guard resources, victims are often left with lingering phobias, trauma responses, and other mental health concerns.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a dog attack, the team at Whibbs, Stone & Barnett is here to help. Our team of Pensacola personal injury attorneys will fight for the compensation you deserve. Schedule a consultation now by calling us at 850-434-5395.
Types of Emotional Damage Caused by Animal Bites
Dog bites are often unprovoked and completely unexpected, forcing the victim into fight-or-flight mode. When the victim begins recovering mentally from the immediate effects of an animal attack, mental health concerns can start creeping in.
The first and most obvious is post-traumatic stress disorder. POTSD is marked by reimagining or reliving the event over and over again, an inability to sleep, triggers related to the incident, anger and other negative emotions, and difficulty concentrating. PTSD after a dog bite is particularly common for children, for whom a dog bite can serve as an undeniable truth that dogs are not safe. An injured child may carry that fear and anxiety with them their entire life. PTSD in children can cause an abnormal hippocampus structure, damaged nervous system development, and poor memory.
Another common outcome after a dog bite is cynophobia, also known as a fear of dogs. Depending on the type of dog involved in the attack, a victim may have an overwhelming fear of all dogs or just the type of dog that attacked them. This can obviously limit a victim’s quality of life, as they must be on guard while going on walks, shopping in pet-friendly stores, and visiting loved ones.
Those with severe anxiety after a dog bite may develop agoraphobia. This is a fear of leaving the house. Dog bite victims may develop agoraphobia because of an intense need to control their surroundings and maximize their own safety. Their home is the easiest place to control, and over time, they are likely to leave their house less and less.
Who Is at Risk of Emotional Trauma?
Anyone who is bitten by a dog is at risk of developing PTSD, cynophobia, agoraphobia, or other mental health concerns. However, children are at serious risk of emotional trauma after a bite. Adults may have a lifetime of happy and uneventful dog interactions behind them by the time they get bitten.
Although the bite may cause short-term trauma and a fear of dogs, their previous experience with dogs may be enough to overcome that fear and maintain a healthy relationship with animals. Note, though, that this does not mean that adults cannot have long-term emotional side effects from a dog bite. They are simply less likely to have ongoing emotional trauma than children.
Children do not have that advantage. Even if they’ve had a family dog for their entire lives, the trauma of a dog bite is usually more than enough to wipe out any positive feelings they have about dogs. This fear could stay with them for the rest of their lives, causing significant social anxiety and public meltdowns when they encounter dogs.
Getting Compensation for a Dog Bite
Securing full and fair compensation for a dog bite is often more challenging than getting a fair settlement for physical injuries and lost wages. Some believe that emotional trauma is not as serious as bodily harm and does not deserve compensation. However, this is a backward view that must be challenged.
An accident that causes serious mental anguish can severely impact your quality of life and limit your independence. A victim experiencing emotional or mental trauma deserves compensation for what they’ve lost and may never regain. This requires the assistance of an attorney who can fight with the insurance company on your behalf. When provided with undeniable evidence of your trauma, the insurance company is far more likely to make a fair settlement offer.
Our Team is Ready to Talk to You About Your Case
If you have suffered a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation from the dog owner or home insurance company. Let’s get started by exploring your options and making a plan. Set up a meeting with our premises liability attorneys now by filling out our online contact form or calling us at 850-500-1111.