A jury has awarded Kristia Gatti, a New York woman, $147,570 because of her dog bite injury. A police officer had brought his dog to a veterinary clinic. He did not tell the clinic that the dog previously had bitten another person. Gatti was working for the clinic and the dog attacked her. Bitten in the face, she has had two surgeries and might need more. (To read the article, click here.)
The case is noteworthy in at least two ways. One is that it underscores the severity of dog bite injuries. When a jury awards this much money, it is correct to assume that the injuries were quite bad — a fact that is confirmed by the two surgeries that Gatti submitted to.
It also is noteworthy because Gatti was assisting a veterinarian when she was injured. The states are divided as to whether a veterinary worker should be entitled to any compensation at all when injured by a dog that is present at the clinic for treatment. In many states, veterinary workers are deemed to have assumed the risk of such injuries, while in others (like New York) the workers are entitled to compensation. Even in states that bar claims by injured workers who normally are deemed to have assumed the risk, they are allowed to seek compensation if the dog owner misrepresented the dog to be a “good dog.” (For more information, see Legal Rights of Dog Bite Victims in the USA.)