Compensation For A Dog Bite With Nerve Damage

person rubbing a wrist with a superposed map of nerves to show an injury

Getting bitten by a dog can be a terrifying and traumatic experience, and not just in the moment. Victims may be affected for years to come, especially if the injury was serious. A dog bite with nerve damage, for example, can lead to permanent impairment and chronic pain. Pet owners have a duty to keep visitors safe, and those who fail to do so should be held accountable. Read our blog post to learn more about dog bites with nerve damage and when to speak to a dog bite attorney. 

Dog Bite Laws in Colorado

Dog bites in Colorado fall under strict liability. This means the owner can be held liable for economic damages (tangible expenses) regardless of the circumstances. For example, you do not have to prove that the dog had a history of aggression in order to seek compensation for your medical bills. That being said, if you can demonstrate that the dog exhibited violent behavior in the past. you may be entitled to non-economic damages (i.e. pain and suffering) as well.

In order to file a strict liability claim, the victim must have endured severe or fatal injuries due to the dog bite while legally on public or private property. Qualifying injuries include:

  • Broken bones or fractures
  • High risk of death
  • Risk of severe or permanent disfigurement
  • Risk of body part or organ loss and/or impairment.

Dog bites with nerve damage would certainly fall under the last category, as they entail permanent impairment of one or more body parts.

How Does A Dog Bite With Nerve Damage Occur?

Nerves run throughout the body with the purpose of sending electrical signals to accomplish both voluntary and involuntary tasks. You have two main groups of nerves: sensory and motor. Sensory nerves conduct messages in the brain to perceive smell, touch, taste, sight, and hearing; motor nerves send signals within your muscles and glands to instruct the body to move.

You have 12 pairs of nerves in your head, face, and neck, and a further 31 spinal nerve pairs that branch throughout your back, arms, hands, legs, and feet. These nerves control many, many functions, including our senses, muscle movements, reflexes, breathing, heart rate, and pain response. 

Suffice to say, damage to these nerves can have serious consequences. When dogs attack, they will often target your head, neck, hands, arms, or legs when aggressive. The chance of a dog bite with nerve damage is quite high, since there are a plethora of nerves in these areas. Nerve damage can occur due to tearing, puncturing, or severing of one or more nerves. Even if the dog does not break the skin, the force of a dog bite is often enough to stretch or crush a nerve, causing permanent injury. 

Dog Bite Nerve Damage Examples

Facial Nerve Damage 

You have three prominent nerves in your face: the facial nerve, trigeminal nerve, and the optic nerve.

  • Damage to the facial nerve can cause permanent paralysis. 
  • Damage to the trigeminal nerve can lead to numbness, pain, and cause issues with talking and chewing.
  • Damage to the optic nerve can cause vision impairment or blindness.

Arm Nerve Damage

The ulnar, median, radial, and axillary nerves run throughout your arms. A dog bite with nerve damage to these areas can cause paralysis, pain, numbness/tingling, difficulty moving the hands and arms, a frozen shoulder, and more.

Leg Nerve Damage

The sciatic, femoral, tibial, obturator, and sural nerve are found in your legs. Damage to these larger nerves can be especially painful and disabling. The sural nerve, in particular, is responsible for sending sensations to the skin. It is located at the base of each calf, which is an easy target for an aggressive dog. A dog bite with nerve damage to the calf can lead to burning, aching, or numbness in the lower legs and feet indefinitely. 

Chest Nerve Damage

If a dog bites you near your throat, you risk phrenic nerve damage. This is a pair of nerves that is responsible for sending movement signals to your diaphragm. No other nerve can do this, which means damage to one or both of these nerves can significantly impair your ability to breathe. 

Types of Nerve Damage

Nerves can be damaged in many ways, the most serious of which are usually permanent. Types of nerve damage include:

  • Neuraplaxia: This is when the nerve is compressed and inflamed. Although considered the most minor form of nerve damage, it can still be quite painful and take several months to heal.
  • Axonotmesis is when the nerve is stretched following trauma, such as a dislocation or a fracture. In these cases, the connectivity of your nerve endings can be damaged. Severity is graded from I to V, with greater injuries taking a year or more to heal. Surgery is also often required to remove surrounding compression.
  • Neurotmesis is the most severe type of nerve damage and occurs when the nerve and nerve sheath are completely disrupted. It is most common in the arms and, in particular, the ulnar nerve (see above). Unfortunately, complete recovery is impossible, though some symptoms can be mitigated with physiotherapy and surgery.  

Symptoms of Nerve Injuries Caused by Dog Bites

Nerve injuries are not always obvious or immediate. Following any serious bite, you should seek medical treatment to avoid other complications, such as infection or scarring. The exact symptoms you experience and their duration will depend on the type of nerve damage (see above). However, some of the most common symptoms associated with nerve injuries are altered and/or painful sensations. This includes:

  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Sharp/shooting pain
  • Aching or throbbing
  • Weakness

Attorney for Dog Bite With Nerve Damage

Every 75 seconds across the United States, a person is bitten by a dog. Furthermore, nearly 1,000 people seek emergency care for severe dog bites per day, while a greater 9,500 people are hospitalized for a dog bite every year. 

In any of these cases, it is imperative to seek medical attention, even if you think your dog bite injury is not serious. Untreated nerve damage can worsen over time and spread throughout your body. Most treatments involve physical therapy and pain medication to relieve discomfort. In some cases, you may require surgery to repair the damage caused to your nerve endings.

Bills can quickly pile up after a bad dog bite, especially if you are out of work and require expensive medical procedures. You deserve just compensation for your injuries and for future loss of income related to them. If you or a loved one was bitten by a dog in Colorado, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Roth Group. We have years of experience dealing with these types of cases and understand how terrifying a dog bite can be. We will help you navigate the legal process while you focus on recovery. Call or go online today to schedule a free consultation.