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Iowa Personal Injury Dog Attacks Increasing

Two dogs recently attacked and severely injured a 62 year old man in Des Moines. The injury to the man's arm was so severe that his treating plastic surgeon, Dr. Bryan Folkers, thought that he would have to amputate the man's arm. Fortunately, Dr. Folkers and Dr. Bergman, were able to save the man's arm and he is recovering.  The two dogs were chows and one of the dogs, a male, has now been euthanized.  The Des Moines Register reported that this was the latest in an increasing number of dog bite injuries.  The Register did not cite any study in support of this opinion and it appears to be based on antidotal evidence.  Dr. Folkers was quoted as saying he regularly treats five or more dog bites a week and the Register reported a recent case in which a Dallas County woman's nose was bitten off by a dog. 

According to the American Humane Association: (1) an estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year and nearly 800,000 of these require medical care; (2) 50% of dog attacks involve children under 12 years old; (3) 70% of dog-bite fatalities occurred among children under 10 years old; and (4) the insurance industry pays more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims each year. See http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/stop-animal-abuse/fact-sheets/dog-bites.html as of 6/26/2013.

In Iowa, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for damages done by the dog when attacking or attempting to bite a person, except when the party damaged is doing an unlawful act, directly contributing to the injury. See Iowa Code Section 351.28.  This means that it is not necessary to prove that a dog owner was negligent in allowing his dog to bite someone.  Recovery can be had based simply on the fact that the attack occurred.

In many instances of dog bites, the attack occurs on the dog owner's property. If the dog owner has homeowner's liability insurance, it may be that the policy covers injuries caused by the dog bites/attacks. 

In every case, it would be wise for an injured person or the injured person's parents to consult with an attorney/law firm experienced in handling dog bite personal injury cases.

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