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Dog Bites

Man’s best friend can sometimes cause tremendous damage. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states there are more than 4.7 million dog bites recorded in the United States every year. To combat this issue, Iowa has established liability laws for the damages caused by a dog bite. 

Not all dog bites are deadly, but some can cause serious bodily injury. A dog bite can lead to severe injuries such as disfigurement or amputations. Some dogs have been known to attack without even being provoked. In fact, the CDC states that 94 percent of dog bites occurred without any warning from the animal.

If you or someone you know has been injured by a dog bite, it’s imperative you gain legal representation.

Attorney for Dog Bites in West Des Moines, Iowa

The majority of dogs are our loving companions. However, an aggressive dog can cause significant injuries. These injuries can lead to drowning medical bills and rehabilitative costs. That is why it’s important you contact an experienced personal injury attorney. 

Contact the attorneys at [frim] to see if you’re eligible for compensation. Call us at (515) 279-9700 to schedule a free case consultation today. The attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. represent people throughout the greater Polk County area including Altoona, Pleasant Hill, Alleman, Runnells and West Des Moines.

Overview of Dog Bites in Iowa   


Possible Injuries from a Dog Bite

It’s obvious Americans love their dogs. A recent study by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation i(AVMA) indicated dogs were the most popular pet in the United States with 36.5 percent of Americans owning at least one dog. With so many dogs, the chances of being bitten have risen exponentially.

A dog bite can lead to severe physical and psychological effects. Many have reported serious physical harm such as broken bones or even permanent disfigurement. In some cases, victims of dog bites continue to endure the attack through symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s important you’re aware of the potential injuries caused by a dog bite.

Listed below are injuries that may result from a dog bite. 


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Iowa Dog Bite Liability Laws

Iowa is a strict liability state, which means the liability will likely be on the owner. This is because Iowa Code § 351.25 states all dogs who wear a collar with a valid rabies tag are deemed property. Iowa law states a person is liable for a dog bite if the dog; 

It’s important to note the Iowa dog bite statute doesn’t include dogs afflicted with hydrophobia or rabies. If the dog bit because it had rabies, then the case will be on the grounds of negligence. The owner can only be found liable if they knew the dog had rabies and failed to get them reasonable treatment in time. 

This means you and your attorney will have to gather evidence proving the owner was fully aware of the dog’s rabies status. If you’re unable to prove the owner knew of the dog’s rabies, then they won’t be considered liable. 

The Iowa Code mentions the owner will be liable for “damages” if their dog bites another person. The question you may be asking is; what do they mean by damages? Damages are the losses you suffered because of your injuries. They can be tangible such as medical costs or intangible such as emotional suffering.

In a personal injury case, the judge will determine a settlement based on your damages. If you win your case, the court will compensate you for your damages. This is an attempt by the court to make the injured plaintiff “whole” after losing so much from their injuries.

Some damages you may recover include:


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I Was Bit by a Dog, What Do I Do?

The majority of dog bites are unprovoked. The dog may have attacked without any prompting or it was unrestrained by a leash. No matter the circumstances, it’s important you act quickly. A dog bite can lead to serious injuries which can be lifelong.

The following are some tips for what you should do after a dog bites you. 

  1. Find distance from the dog or get the dog off you
  2. Stay away from the attack if possible
  3. Call a first responder once you’re in a safe location
  4. Find the dog’s owner if you can
  5. Obtain their information such as name and number
  6. Take photos of your injuries, the dog, and the scene of the attack
  7. If there are any eyewitnesses record their statements
  8. Contact animal control or law enforcement 

The last step is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can assist you throughout the legal process. They can also collect evidence of your attack to present in front of the court. If you win your case, then you’ll receive a monetary settlement for your damages.


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Additional Resources

Dog Bite Laws in Iowa – Visit the official website for the Iowa Code Title IX Local Government, which details the laws for dog bites in the state. Access the statute to learn how dogs are regarded as property, the right to kill a tagged or untagged dog and penalties for not administering the rabies vaccine to your dog.

Preventing Dog Bites – Visit the official website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more about how to avoid a dog bite. Access the site to learn dog bite statistics, what to do if an unfamiliar dog approaches you and how to prevent a dog bite. 


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Lawyer for Dog Bites in Polk County, Iowa

A dog bite has the potential to change your daily life. Serious injuries such as extreme lacerations can set you back thousands in medical cost. This doesn’t even include the psychological cost behind a dog bite. If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog, it’s important you contact an experienced attorney.

The attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. excel at personal injury law. We can assess your case to see if you’re entitled to compensation. If litigation is needed, our attorneys will never back down from any challenge. Call (515) 279-9700 today to schedule a case consultation with an experienced attorney. 

McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. represents people throughout the Polk and Dallas County area including Adel, West Des Moines, Polk City, Minburn, Winsor Heights and Dexter.


This article was last updated on May 31, 2019.

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