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Personal injury: Medical treatment for animal bites is crucial

Thousands of people nationwide, including in New Hampshire, suffer animal bites each year. The number of personal injury lawsuits that follow dog and cat bites underscores the prevalence of such incidents. Wild animal bites occur much less frequently because very few people get in close contact with non-domestic animals.

Dogs typically bite when they are overexcited, injured, scared or when they feel threatened. They might also attack if they believe they have to protect their human owners, their food or their young from harm. When dog or cat bites do not break the skin, there are no infection risks, and scratches or scrapes that only graze the surface of the skin pose minimal dangers of infection.

However, lacerations and cuts provide access for bacteria to enter the bloodstream, increasing potential for infections. Cats, whose sharp teeth cause deep puncture wounds that are never easy to clean, pose the highest risks. These wounds are small, and the outer layer of skin might heal quickly, leaving bacteria trapped in the wound. When seeing a doctor it will be important to know the kind of animal that caused the bite and whether the animal's rabies vaccinations were up to date. The physician will also want to know when the victim last had a tetanus shot.

Medical expenses could be substantial, but leaving infected animal bites untreated is very dangerous. Victims of animal bites, or parents whose children were bitten, might be entitled to pursue financial relief. It might be a good idea to discuss the issue with an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer can explain options under applicable New Hampshire laws, and assess the circumstances to determine the viability of a claim. If a lawsuit is filed, the attorney can provide valuable support and guidance throughout ensuing proceedings.

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