portrait of an aggressive doberman pinscher in a field

Emotional Effects of a Dog Bite Injury

Did you know dogs bite more than 20,000 people in Los Angeles County every year? Plus, there are hundreds of thousands of other bites across California and the U.S.

These dog bites are painful, costly, and traumatic for victims. Although many effects of a dog bite are immediate, like the jagged lacerations that come from a vicious animal’s teeth, other effects are delayed and long-lasting.

You could be dealing with deep emotional pain and mental suffering. Some people never fully recover from the trauma of a dog attack.

The Devastating Emotional Damage of a Dog Bite

Dog bite victims are at a high risk of experiencing lasting emotional damage. Children are particularly vulnerable and may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) two to nine months after a dog attack.

In fact, there are numerous studies authored by doctors and psychiatrists that show the heavy emotional impact of dog bites. Victims may need long-term mental health support for PTSD and other disorders. They may develop a lifelong fear of dogs, that makes them incapable of handling dog encounters in everyday situations.

Common emotional effects of a dog bite injury include interpersonal avoidance, intrusive memories, mood swings, guilt, and irrational thinking. Very young children can be afflicted with conditions like selective mutism as a result of the extreme trauma of a dog attack.

Nightmares and sleep disorders are also potential consequences of a terrifying dog attack. Victims may develop persistent night terrors that interfere with their ability to sleep, eroding their mental stability and quality of life.

After observing hundreds of patients with dog bites, hospital doctors in Pittsburgh created this list of life-changing psychological impacts:

  • Fear of dogs and people
  • Repeated nightmares and difficulty sleeping
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Speech defects such as stuttering
  • New fears and phobias
  • Personality changes
  • Outbursts of anger and other strong emotions

Dog Owners Can Be Held Responsible for Dog Bite Trauma

You should know that California is a strict liability state for dog bite injuries. This places the responsibility on the owner for a dog biting someone, even if the owner wasn’t present at the scene of the attack.

It doesn’t matter whether the dog has ever shown aggression before or whether it has a history of biting people or animals in the past. Strict liability puts the responsibility directly on the owner.

However, certain factors must be taken into consideration when establishing an owner’s responsibility for a dog bite. If the victim was teasing or taunting the animal, this may release the dog’s owner from responsibility because provocation is a viable defense to dog bite liability.

Also, the victim can’t have been trespassing when the bite took place and law enforcement animals, like police dogs, are exempt from the rules. Talk to your dog bite lawyer about these issues and whether they apply to your case.

After a Dog Bite, Don’t Ignore Your Emotional Pain

Although your medical bills will likely make up the basis of your dog bite case, your emotional pain and suffering could also boost its value significantly. In some cases, emotional trauma and its related treatment can double the value of a dog bite claim.

But too often, dog bite victims disregard and undervalue their emotional pain as they try to brush it aside and erase their bad memories of the attack. This is a huge mistake that could prevent your dog bite claim from being as valuable as it could be under California law. Give this aspect of your case the attention it deserves!

At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, our deepest sympathies go out to dog bite victims like you. We’re here to help you move forward with your life by securing the dog bite compensation you deserve.

We Handle Your Personal Injury Claim so You Can Focus on Your Life

San Francisco Personal Injury Lawyers - Sally Morin Law 2

After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including dog bite injuries. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.

Accident Client

If you’re someone who is considering an attorney for a personal accident, I highly recommend Sally Morin and her professional staff of attorneys. If you would like to know more details, feel free to contact me via Yelp and I would be happy to share more details. While I use Yelp quite often, I rarely post reviews… unless I’m truly blown away by great service (or angry with horrible service). If there were a sixth star, I would certainly give it to Rebecca and Sally!

We're here to help with your Personal Injury claim

Check out our Personal Injury FAQ Page to learn more about how the process works.

We Handle Your Personal Injury Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of traffic injury claims. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a
free online case evaluation.


It is essential to know your rights after a traffic accident so you can protect yourself and the value of your claim.
This guide will help you:

  • 1Know what to do when dealing with insurance claims, police reports and lawyers.
  • 2Avoid making mistakes that undermine the value of your claim
  • 3Put yourself in a position to get the best settlement possible