Remembering mental injury when it comes to dog bite compensation claimsJuly 6, 2011
Whenever a dog bite or attack occurs, it can lead to victim trauma on two main accounts; the emotional effect of the attack and the physical effect of the attack. The emotional effect an attack has on an individual is, of course, different for each person and each case. However, ignored or misunderstood, emotional trauma can lead to serious conditions. As well as physical injuries, it is for this type of emotional injury that dog bite compensation can be claimed.
The scope of mental trauma an individual experiences after they have been attacked by a dog is widely overlooked and underestimated. Symptoms such as paranoia, anxiety and various phobias can develop as a result of an attack. These debilitating symptoms have a great effect on a person’s life – rendering their previous lifestyle sometimes unmanageable and, at times, impossible. For example, imagine your morning stroll to the tube station being turned into an extremely stressful (even terrifying) experience, as you pass the neighbour walking the dog. This type of reaction, experienced on a day to day basis, causes unimaginable inconvenience and stress in a dog bite victim’s life. This is one of the reasons that dog bite compensation exists.
Without obvious physical or external scars, people often believe that they will have no grounds for a dog bite compensation claim. Reasons for this can vary; often an individual will feel ‘silly’ and embarrassed that such an event has had a profound effect on their life; sometimes an individual may not even realise that subsequent panic or anxiety attacks are directly related to the prior dog bite. This is not the case. Dog bite compensation can cover a variety of different claims, including the emotional trauma caused by an attack. Some psychologists and therapists go as far to say that making a dog bite compensation claim goes some way in treating the emotional trauma. This could take place in the simple form of gaining counselling for any emotional trauma induced. There is also ground to argue that a dog bite compensation win in itself restores a victim’s confidence; aiding a person in overcoming the phobia or anxiety caused by the attack.
It is also worth mentioning the mental trauma that is caused by the permanent scarring of a victim. Though this type of trauma is not a result of the actual act of the attack, it is still an emotional injury directly caused by the physical scarring the dog bite causes. A victim may feel like they no longer want to leave the house, their social life may be affected, working life can also begin to enter a downward spiral as people get more and more reluctant to be seen by others, self-conscious about the scarring. In this case, close relationships will be affected, often leaving an individual feeling isolated, helpless and hopeless. Just because different people are bound to react in very different ways to permanent scarring, it should not be assumed that dog bite compensation does not cover victims who have lost confidence in their personal appearance as a result of a dog bite. Dog bite compensation can be an important tool for a victim in beginning to regain confidence in appearance, coming to terms with the scarring or perhaps paving some way for reconstructive surgery.
Of course, as important as it is to remember the significant mental damage caused by a dog bite, as well as the significant ways in which this will affect a victim’s day to day life, it is important not to forget the ways in which certain physical injuries will prohibit individuals in carrying out their daily routines. A builder, for example, bitten on the leg by a dog, will benefit greatly from a dog bite compensation claim. This would be due to the fact that the dog bite would leave him unable to do his job. This may not just be a short term problem; physical injuries may last for many years, after the immediate symptoms are treated. Muscles may take a while to build up their strength, whilst scarring tissue may make it difficult for some people to succeed in certain professions (i.e. an athlete). Both short-term and long-term treatment can be won in a dog bite compensation claim.
Hopefully, this goes some way in explaining the variety of problems a dog attack can cause and how making a claim can aid recovery in a number of different ways.