Muscle and Ligament Damage Caused by Dog Bites

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Key Points:

  • Dog bites can do severe damage to muscles, tissues, ligaments, tendons, and bones.
  • Even if the skin is not broken, it’s still possible to suffer a crushing injury from a dog bite.
  • It’s important to seek medical attention as soon after a dog attack as possible.
  • A personal injury attorney can help you understand if the dog’s owner should be responsible for compensating you for your losses.

Although dogs are often playful and loving companions, dog bites are a common occurrence. When a dog attacks, its bite can injure the victim’s soft tissues and bones badly enough to make daily tasks a challenge.

If you’ve been injured by a dog bite, then the dog’s owner may be responsible for your injuries. Here’s what you should know.

Dogs Have the Strength to Severely Damage Muscles

All dogs, even small breed, can be dangerous. Dog attacks are less about the dog’s breed, than about the dog’s disposition and history.

The powerful jaws of some dogs have enough force to crush and damage skin, muscle, ligaments, tendons, and bone. While tears and punctures to the flesh are often part of this damage, severe injuries can occur without the animal’s mouth ever perforating the skin. Such injuries are called crush injuries, which happen when the victim’s clothing protects the skin from contact with teeth, but the pressure and force of the bite damage underlying tissue.

The jaws of a large dog can exert pressure in excess of 450 pounds per square inch. This can result in deep puncture or crush injuries. Other dogs are known to use their canine teeth to hold the victim while shaking their head from side to side, which can cause more extensive tissue-tearing injuries.

Children Are Likely Victims of Dog Attacks

Most dog bite injuries happen to children aged 5 to 9 years of age. Kids of this age typically do not understand the potential danger dogs can represent. Therefore, they’re more likely to approach them fearlessly. However, dog attacks can and do happen to people of all ages.

Dog bite damage is statistically most common to the extremities, including the hands, arms, feet, legs, face, head, and neck. In small children, the tissues, blood vessels, ligaments, and bones in these areas have little protection from muscles and fat so injuries can be much more severe.

What Happens to Damaged Muscles After a Dog Bite

The most common complication associated with dog attacks is infection. According to MedScape.com there are at least 64 varieties of bacteria known to be found in canine saliva. Such bacteria can be introduced to the victim’s body when there is a puncture wound or laceration associated with a bite.

Infections can develop quickly and spread throughout the body if not treated properly. This can be a potentially deadly situation in people with compromised immune systems or those who suffer from conditions like diabetes, cancer, or HIV.

Symptoms of Infections from a Dog Bite Include:

  • Tenderness near the bite
  • Redness, pain, or swelling at the site of the injury
  • Pus or fluid oozing from the wound
  • Loss of feeling near the site
  • Difficulty moving the fingers or toes of the area bitten
  • Red streaks emanating from or near the injury
  • Swelling lymph nodes
  • Chills or fever
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shaking, trembling, or muscle weakness

Even with proper medical attention to bite wounds, other damage like deep bruising of the muscle and bone can be present with or without obvious skin lacerations. Bruising happens whenever blood vessels are damaged by crushing or tearing, causing them to leak into the surrounding tissue. This can be referred to as a contusion.

The location of the bite and the victim’s age play important parts in the treatment of dog bites. The young and the elderly have less protective tissue and can experience more traumatic damage from punctures, flesh tearing, or even deep bruising than other individuals.

Following an injury, the human body will work to immobilize the affected area. Therefore, swelling and pain may occur following a dog bite as the injury heals. The following symptoms suggest bruising of the tissues and bone:

  • Tenderness or pain around the injury
  • Discoloration of the skin near the site of the injury
  • Difficulty in moving the surrounding joints (muscle bruising)
  • Blood that collects under the skin near the injured site, which is called a hematoma

Occasionally, even long after the dog attack, the trauma of the bite can trigger a serious condition known as muscular sarcoidosis. This happens when clumps of inflammatory tissue called granulomas develop around the injury, ultimately impacting the joints and bones as arthritis, and causing mobility issues.

How Medical Professionals Commonly Treat Dog Bite Muscle Injuries

After a dog bite, it’s crucial to seek medical attention to treat the damage or the wound. Even seemingly harmless bites may lead to severe damage or infection if left untreated.

For muscle trauma, doctors generally recommend what’s known as the RICE treatment.

  • Rest – Limited physical activity may be recommended to protect the injury from further damage.
  • Ice – Doctors often recommend applying ice packs to your injury to reduce pain, swelling, and bleeding. Wrapping ice in a damp cloth or towel can keep it away from direct contact with the skin.
  • Compression – Your doctor may suggestwrapping your injury with an elastic bandage. Compression may provide additional support, prevent bleeding, and reduce swelling.
  • Elevation – Medical providers sometimes recommendkeeping the injury above your heart level when resting. Elevation of the injury increases the circulation of blood to the site and reduces swelling.

It’s important to follow all recommendations from your doctor after a dog bite. Their guidance will help ensure your injury does not become worse and will promote healing.

If your doctor suspects severe damage, imaging tests, like an X-Ray or MRI may be recommended. These tests can reveal deeper damage and will determine whether or not hospitalization or surgical intervention is necessary.

When an injury disrupts the ordinary use of the impacted body parts, medical procedures may be necessary to restore its function. Physical therapy may be prescribed as you heal to preserve and restore muscle tone and function of surrounding tissues, tendons, and muscles.

When more extensive medical care is required, medical bills can begin to add up quickly.

How Injured Muscles May Impact a Person’s Life

No two dog bites are alike. Of course, factors like the victim’s age and health status, the severity of the injury, the medical costs, and quality of life issues can be all be different.

Some dog bites may require surgical procedures, which can lead to lost time from work and pain and suffering that continues for weeks or months. And in severe cases, prolonged pain and mobility problems can mean unwelcome lifestyle changes that last forever.

Fortunately, the law in Georgia makes it possible for victims to gain compensation for some costs and losses. The following list of expenses can be included in your claim against the dog owner, who may be held responsible for your injuries.

  • Medical costs: Any emergency room visits, hospitalization, follow-up visits, prescription and over-the-counter medicines, bandages, crutches or braces, prosthetic devices, and physical therapy should be included in your claim.
  • Lost wages: Compensation you did not receive because of lost time at work due to the initial event and any follow-up treatment should be considered in a claim. If the injury makes it impossible for you to resume your regular job, you may be compensated for changes in your potential future income.
  • Costs for care: If your injuries require you to pay someone to complete your usual daily tasks, such as grocery shopping, lawn care, housekeeping, or childcare, then these costs can be included in your claim.

Who Is Responsible for Your Dog Bite Injury?

The owner of the dog that attacked you may be held responsible for your costs in some circumstances.

The owner’s insurance company might offer to pay your medical expenses, but they rarely offer to pay for the remainder of your costs, which can be cripplingly expensive.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog attack, it is important that you learn how to make a complete claim that includes not just medical costs but also other damages including pain and suffering and quality of life changes. The law in Georgia is there to protect you from expenses caused by another person’s negligence. An experienced personal injury lawyer can be your ally and explain the steps you should take to ensure your needs are covered.

At The Millar Law Firm, we have years of experience helping our clients gain full and fair compensation for all their losses. We know all the tricks and tactics used by insurance companies to avoid compensating you completely. Our goal is always to see our clients thoroughly recompensed.

Call today for your free case evaluation. We’ll help you understand how to proceed and, if you wish, we will gladly take on the task of getting you every dime to which you’re entitled. Call today at 770-400-0000.

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