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Man's best friend isn't always so friendly

Many people in California have household pets, and an overwhelming favorite in many homes is a dog. In fact, more than half of all households in the U.S. have a pet, totaling over 80 million homes across the nation. Though most people could never imagine their beloved dog ever attacking or biting a person, such incidents can and do happen. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have studied this common problem and concluded that some 4.5 million people are bitten by a dog every year.

Not every dog bite is serious, but a lot of them are. Nearly 1 million people require medical attention for dog bites every year, and it is possible that many more should seek medical attention but choose not to. Some people are concerned about the cost of medical bills, others don't realize the severity of their injuries and what negative side effects can linger afterwards, while others are afraid of getting their dog or the dog's owner in trouble with the law. This can be a big mistake, since an untreated dog bite can lead to permanent scarring, infection, disease and even worse.

Those who are bitten by a dog should always seek medical attention immediately. A dog bite left untreated can lead to worse health problems and even greater medical bills. Those who are afraid of getting a pet or their owner in trouble should also think twice, since an animal with the tendency to bite could easily do it again and cause serious injury to another person. Notifying law enforcement of a dangerous dog is a must, as failing to do so constitutes an unacceptable risk to public safety.

Finally, people who are bitten by a dog may be entitled to significant compensation that can cover medical bills, pain and suffering and other damages. In 2013, homeowners insurance policies in the U.S. paid out nearly $500 million to dog bite victims, so the possibility of getting compensation is very real. Dog bite victims should seek immediate medical attention, document the situation as best they can and then consult an experienced California personal injury attorney.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, "Dog Bite Liability," accessed Jan. 24, 2014

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