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A Northern x Southern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) hiding on the forest floor in Illinois, USA
Copperhead

One of the best features of North Carolina is the vast expanses of wilderness. In the spring and summer, locals and tourists alike venture onto the thousands of trails throughout the state to explore the woods and mountains. Yet there is a danger in North Carolina that has made the headlines recently: snake bites.

According to the Carolinas Poison Control Center, there were 71 calls about snake bites in April. In April of 2016, there were only 19. That’s an increase of nearly 400 percent. At the current rate, the Center expects to field more than 500 snake bite calls this year. Experts believe this increase occurred because of the relatively warm weather this winter; since snakes are cold-blooded, they are more active in warm weather.

The biggest culprit of snake bites? Copperheads.

North Carolina’s Venomous Snakes

North Carolina is home to 37 species of snakes. The majority of them are not dangerous, but six species are venomous (not poisonous, as they are frequently mislabeled). They include:

  • Copperheads
  • Eastern diamondbacks
  • Cottonmouths/water moccasins
  • Canebrake rattlesnakes
  • Pigmy rattlesnakes
  • Coral snakes
A large, impressive and potentially deadly Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake poises in strike position when encountered on a south Florida roadside
Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake

Of these, the Carolinas Poison Control Center receives about 10 times more calls for copperhead bites than any other snake. The reason is two-fold. One, copperheads are the most plentiful venomous snake in North Carolina. Second, their camouflage is so good that most victims get within striking distance without ever realizing it.

While most snake bites happen out in the wild, that is not always the case. There have been reports of snakes hiding in shoes or in homes, especially during the cold months. They have also been known to seek shelter in commercial buildings as well. In 2016, a man was bitten by a copperhead while shopping in a Denver, NC Lowe’s gardening center.

Keeping Yourself Safe from Snake Bites

Eastern Coral Snake (Micrurus fulvius)
Eastern Coral Snake

Due to snakes’ tendency to seek shelter in warm, sometimes unexpected places, Dr. Michael Beuhler, medical director of the Carolinas Poison Control Center, said people should be especially careful this spring. He advises should never put their hands where they can’t see, such as reaching into bushes or even boots. In addition, people should always carry a flashlight at night, especially if they are going into the woods.

If you come across a snake, back away slowly. Generally, snakes want to mind their own business, and only strike when they are threatened. By moving slowly, you show that you are not a threat, and the snake has nothing to worry about. Never try to capture or kill the snake, as doing so leads to about 70 to 80 percent of all bites. If you encounter a snake in your home or other building, do your best to close off the area, then call animal control.

What to Do If You’re Bitten

Though you may take every precaution possible, snake bites do happen. The good news is, more people are killed every year from bee and wasp stings than snake bites. That doesn’t means you shouldn’t take immediate action if you are bitten, however. Chances are, you won’t know if the snake is venomous or not after a bite. If you are unsure, or you know it is a venomous snake, call 911 immediately.

Cottonmouth snake with tongue out
Cottonmouth/Water Moccasin

While you are waiting on emergency personnel to arrive, there are a few things you can do to help yourself. First, remain as calm as possible and move away slowly from the snake. Do your best to remember what the snake looks like, as this will help the hospital administer the right antivenom.

If you are wearing any tight clothing or jewelry, remove it before swelling occurs. If possible, position yourself so the snake bite location is at or below your heart to make it more difficult for the venom to spread. Avoid flushing out the area with water, but instead clean it gently and wrap it in a dry, clean dressing.

Never apply a tourniquet or ice to the wound. And despite what the movies say, you should never try to bleed the venom from the wound or attempt to “suck out” the venom. Because venom moves so quickly through the body, it’s all but impossible to remove it this way. In fact, doing so can cause even greater damage to the surrounding skin. Finally, avoid any caffeine or alcohol, as these cause the body to absorb venom more quickly.

Though snake bites are on the rise in North Carolina, the good news is, the majority of these bites are non-fatal. For one, modern medical treatments can prevent death or even permanent injury when administered quickly. And second, many snake bites are “dry,” meaning no venom is actually injected. By following the tips above, you can avoid most run-ins with snakes, and ensure your own safety should you ever be bitten.

Being bitten by a dog can be terrifying. While most dog owners hold tight to the belief that their dog would never bite anyone, the truth is that, given the right circumstances, any dog will bite. Those who make the laws understand this, and they have put rules and restrictions in place to protect those who are bitten. Here is a brief overview of the current dog bite laws in North Carolina.

Before we begin, it is important to understand that there are laws that pertain to the state, but there are also local ordinances that may come into play in a dog bite case. If you have been bitten by a dog in Charlotte, it is best to consult an attorney to determine your specific rights.

When You Are Bitten

The first thing you want to do if you are bitten by a dog is to determine its owner. This will be helpful information should you decide to seek medical attention and in the event you file a lawsuit.

When a dog bites a person in the state of North Carolina, the law says that the dog must be quarantined for 10 days. The public health officer is permitted to determine whether the dog may be quarantined in its home or if it must be confined at the local kennel. It is illegal for the dog’s owner to not comply with the quarantine.

One Bite Law

North Carolina, and many other states across the country, follow what is known as the one-bite-law. This means that if you are bitten by a dog who has no history of biting a human, you may be unable to sue the dog’s owner. The exception to this rule is if the dog was permitted to run at large at night and older than six months of age.

If you are bitten by a dog that has a bite history or by one that has been labeled as being “potentially dangerous,” you are more likely to recover costs for your medical bills from the dog’s owner. A dog may be labeled as “potentially dangerous” if:

  • It has terrorized or harassed someone while off its property
  • It has killed or injured an animal while on its property
  • It has caused injury to a person in such a way that broken bones or disfigurement occurred or the injuries required hospitalization or plastic surgery

What You May Recover

In the event of a dog bite, you may qualify for compensation in the state of North Carolina. You may recover:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Loss of consortium

If you have been bitten by a dog in Charlotte, reach out to our team of experienced dog bite attorneys. We will review the details of your case and advise you of your legal options. Call today to schedule your appointment for a free case evaluation and let us help you recover what you are owed.

There are millions of dogs in the United States. They are arguably the most popular pet in the nation. With so many dogs residing in households, it should come as no surprise that thousands of people are bitten every year. No one wants to believe that their beloved dog could ever bite someone, but the truth is that any dog can bite given the “right” circumstances. Knowing why dogs tend to bite can go a long way toward preventing these injuries.

1. Cornered

When any animal is cornered, the fight or flight response kicks in. A dog will typically give several warning signs before it strikes out. In most situations, a friendly pet will prefer flight to fight. A dog that has found itself cornered with no option for flight may lash out.

If a dog feels trapped or cornered, it may lower its head, growl, pin its ears back or even tuck its tail. If you notice any of these signals, back away and give the dog space.

2. Resource Guarding

A dog, like people, enjoys its possessions. This may include toys, food and even beds. Some dogs will guard their possessions more aggressively than others. Puppies should be taught that when a human takes their “things,” they will be returned. If a dog has something, don’t take it unless you are sure that you can do so safely. This is especially important when the dog is not your own.

3. Provocation

Some dogs like hugs, and some don’t. Some dogs like having their ears stroked and some find it to be irritating. Always ask a pet owner what their dog prefers and dislikes before you reach out to pet it. You may provoke a dog unknowingly and receive a bite.

4. Sleeping

Have you heard the old adage “Let sleeping dogs lie”? This is true. Don’t disturb a sleeping dog. This can startle the animal, and the dog may jump up and bite before it even realizes what it is doing. If you need to wake up a dog for some reason, clap your hands, call its name or shake the bed. Don’t reach out with your hand wake the dog.

5. Health Issues

In some cases, a dog may become aggressive due to underlying health issues. If an otherwise friendly dog becomes aggressive or has mood changes, a trip to the vet is in order. Some dogs experience mood changes when they are ill or injured. If your dog is experiencing these changes, a veterinarian can either diagnose or rule out a health issue.

Dog bites can result in serious injury including lacerations, punctures and contusions. If you have been bitten by someone’s dog in West Palm Beach, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call our experienced team of dog bite attorneys for a free case evaluation. We will speak to you and help you determine your best course of action. Contact us today for more information or to schedule your consultation.

Millions of people in the United States call dogs members of their family. Many of these people mistakenly believe that a dogs’ “hands” are its front paws. The truth of the matter is that a dog uses its mouth in much the same way that an infant uses its hands: to explore the world.

It makes sense that if puppies and dogs explore with their mouths, people may get bit. Not biting skin is something that puppies need to be taught. Left unchecked, biting can quickly get out of control, putting owners, victims and dogs at risk. Here is how to train a puppy that enjoys uses its teeth a bit too frequently.

1. Yipping

Trust us when we say that you will feel a bit ridiculous yipping at your young puppy, but it’s a method that works. Yipping can quickly teach a puppy bite inhibition. That is, you will teach your puppy that it is okay to put its teeth on you, but it is not acceptable to bite down hard.

Wait for a time that your puppy is naturally chewing on your fingers or arm. When your puppy bites too hard, give a high-pitched yelp. This should cause your puppy to stop biting you, as the sound is associated with pain in the canine world. When it does, praise quickly.

2. Excitement

Puppies can be tough to train when they are overly excited. Try not to rile up your puppy to the point that it is biting. If it does happen, all play should stop until your puppy calms down.

3. Pocket Toys

Some puppies tend to run after humans and nip at their heels. If you have such a puppy, be sure to carry a rope or other dog toy in your pocket. When your puppy nips at your heels, remove the toy from your pocket and use it to get your dog’s attention. Stop moving your feet and when your puppy stops biting, reward it with the toy.

4. Play Dates

Puppies and dogs learn very quickly from one another. Give your puppy plenty of chances to play with others of its species. Your puppy will not only learn how to socialize and behave correctly, but it will be too tired to chase after you or other humans.

Teaching a puppy is not difficult, but it can take time. Be patient but firm with your dog and maintain consistency. When you teach your young puppy not to bite, you are helping to ensure that it does not aggressively bite a human later on.

If you have been the victim of a dog bite in Charlotte, please call our attorneys. We are experienced in personal injury law and will review the facts of your case at no cost to you. Call us today for assistance.

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Dogs are the most popular pet in American households today. There are millions of home with at least one dog in residence, and many that have multiple canines running about. You may even count yourself among the millions of dog owners in the country.

No matter how much you love all things covered in fur, you may not be approaching unfamiliar dogs the right way. If you aren’t, you run a very real risk of being bitten. Now that the weather is warming up, you are bound to see more dogs out for walks than you’ve seen in the previous few months. When you see one of these dogs that you just can’t resist, here are some tips for approaching it in a safe way.

1. Ask the Owner’s Permission

One of the questions that makes dog owner’s cringe is, “Does it bite?” Of course it does. It’s a dog and any dog can bite. The second most cringe-worthy question: “Is your dog friendly?” Get on an owner’s good side right away by simply asking if it is okay if you pet their dog.

2.  Hold Out Your Knuckles

Once you get the go-ahead from the owner, put your hand out to the dog and let it sniff. Put your hand out palm down with your fingers curled under. This gives the dog your knuckles to smell and protects your fingers.

3. Wait for the Dog’s Permission

After the dog has had a chance to smell you, it will tell you if it wants to be petted. Of course it isn’t going to jump up and down, do a dance and yell, “Pet me!” What it will do is move forward, nudge your hand with its head, or perk its ears. If you see these signs, you are okay to go in for the pet.

4. Pet the Right Spot

Don’t pet an unfamiliar dog on or near the ears, on the face or on the stomach. Instead, pet the side of its body. If it nudges your hand with its head, you are probably safe to pet the top of its furry noggin as well. Once you get the go ahead from the dog, and you will know when you do, pet to your abandon.

It may be in your nature to greet every dog you see, but it may not be in your best interest. Follow the tips above to keep yourself safe. If you do experience a dog bite in North Carolina, call our team of personal injury attorneys. We will provide you with a free case evaluation and advise you of your options under current law. Call now or browse our website for more information about our firm.

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 Persian_kitten_PlayfightingWhen people think about being bitten by a pet or stray animal, the first thing that often comes to mind is a dog. Unfortunately, dogs may not be the worst of our problems. If you are bitten by a cat, you may suffer far more serious damage, up to and including infection.

According to a new study by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, cat bites often lead to bacterial infections that are difficult to treat. In fact, these bites are often much more difficult to treat than dog bites. According to the study, close to a third of all people who sought treatment for a cat bite to the hand had to ultimately be hospitalized for more serious medical attention.

The researchers’ goal was to see if they could determine exactly what led to hospital stays versus patch-ups and send-homes. What they found was what we already knew: Cat bites over joints or tendons are more likely to require hospitalization than other bites to the hand. People with existing immune-deficiency disorders are at a higher risk.

So what is it about cats that make their bites so dangerous? Their sharp teeth make them more likely to puncture the skin more deeply. The teeth are also easily able to puncture joint sheaths and tendons. When these parts are punctured by cat teeth, there is a perfect avenue for bacteria to be introduced into the human body.

Says Dr. Brian Carlsen, “I have seen some really bad infections that have required multiple operations. I had one patient, a farmer, whose tendons were destroyed on the back of his hand by the infection. He couldn’t straighten his fingers out. We had to reconstruct the tendons.”

It is not unusual for people to be bitten by their own cats. It is also not unusual for people to forego the hospital for home treatment. Many often simply wash their hands, put on a bandage and go about their day. This may not be the best course of action.

If you receive a cat bite in North Carolina from someone else’s pet, call our offices. A member of our team will review the details of your case and tell you how to proceed. Call our office now or browse our website for more information about our firm.

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dog accidents

It is fair to say that any dog can bite. It is also fair to say that when people think of dogs that bite, the minds of most immediately wander toward the pit bull or other large breeds. The truth of the matter is, there are several breeds of dog that are far more likely to react with their teeth than others. Here are five breeds of dogs to keep your eye on.

1. Chihuahua

These tiny dogs look unassuming and harmless. They aren’t. Easily frightened, these compact canines are far more likely to bite than they are to run.

2. English Bulldogs

Of the bully breeds, the English may be more likely to bite than the others. These dogs are fiercely loyal but do tend to become snappy. If you welcome one of these wrinkled bundles of joy into your home, early obedience training is a must.

3. Pit Bull

Pit bulls do make the list, but not for reasons that you may think. These dogs are not typically aggressive by nature, but they are incredibly protective of their families. When threatened, a pit bull may determine that the best course of action is to defend itself and the ones it loves.

4. German Shepherd

These dogs are used for police and military work around the world. Their jaws pack a fierce bite, so watch out! They tend to be easy to train, but they are also a breed that must receive socialization early on to be considered safe.

5. Australian Shepherd

These beautiful dogs are natural herders. Although they are cute, they are not the right dog for everyone. If you don’t have experience with a herding dog, you may want to look for another breed or risk being bossed around (and bitten) by your own pet.

Any dog that has teeth can bite and cause serious damage. Knowing which dogs are more likely to react with a snap of the jaws is important, especially if you have children. If you are a first-time dog owner or don’t have the time it will take to train these dogs properly, any dog on this list may be best to be avoided.

If you have been the victim of a dog bite in North Carolina, call our personal injury attorneys today. We will review your case at no charge and advise you how to best proceed. Call today for assistance.

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There’s a popular meme that occasionally makes its way around Facebook that goes something like this: I’m the type of person that makes friends with all of the dogs at a party. If this sounds like you, read on. While you may love all animals, not all animals love you. It’s important to remind ourselves that we need to be careful around pets we aren’t familiar with this holiday season as we visit the homes of friends and relatives.

But I’m a Dog Person

No matter where you go, you are the first person surrounded by the dogs. You can reach down and pet any animal without worry. That may be true … until it isn’t. Never assume that because you are a “dog person” that you can reach out and touch any dog you please. Always ask the owner if their dog will welcome a friendly pat.

Holidays are Stressful

The holidays can be stressful for dogs. Creatures of habit, dogs get anxious when their routines are changed. Meeting a dog this time of year can be different than meeting them on a Saturday in the middle of June. Don’t assume that a dog is in the right state of mind to interact safely with strangers.

Anxious Dogs Can Lash Out

When a dog is stressed, anxious or even sick, it can behave in ways that it normally wouldn’t. Keep this in mind, even with your own dogs. A frightened or stressed out dog is more likely to bite than a confident one. If a dog looks like it would rather be anywhere but in the room with you, leave it alone.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Don’t reach into a dog crate to pet a dog. Don’t wake a dog up from a nap simply to pet it. Leave dogs that are eating alone. A startled dog can bite quickly. If a dog has moved away from the party to find a bit of private space, let it go.

You don’t want to deal with a dog bite this holiday season. In the unfortunate event that you are bitten, contact our offices. Our personal injury attorneys will review your case and tell you if you may have the right to compensation. Call us now.

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DaschundHere is a simple truth: Dog bites are dangerous Whether you are bitten by a pit bull or a dachshund (the most aggressive breed, surprisingly), a dog bite can be disfiguring, not to mention incredibly painful. As the holidays approach and you begin planning your celebrations, it’s important to remember that dog bites can be prevented. Especially when the dog is your own.

No matter how friendly your dog is, the stress of the holidays can bring about behavioral changes in your animal. With the fast pace of the season, your dog can easily become stressed or even frightened. The friendliest dog may lash out due to a mood change or a perceived need to protect itself. Do yourself and your guests a favor by learning how to read your dog and take the appropriate steps to keep everyone protected.

  1. Stick to a Routine

Dogs are creatures of habit. You know this. Think of how many times your dog has woken you up just a minute before your alarm has gone off. Think of how often your dog runs into its kennel when it’s time for you to go to work. Dogs love routine and predictability. Try to stick to your dog’s routine as much as possible during the holiday season.

  1. Kennels are a Safe Place

If you are going to be having guests for the holidays, consider putting your dog in its kennel while people are in your home. Your dog can get overwhelmed quickly if it is not used to having a house full of people. Your dog’s kennel is its safe place.

  1. Set Ground Rules

Talk to family and friends before they arrive. If your dog does not like its ears touched, make sure your guests know it. If your dog gets a bit touchy about having its tail pulled, speak up. Your dog should never be subjected to or forced to tolerate things it doesn’t like.

  1. Boarding

If you do not have a kennel for your dog and you are worried about the stress it will be put under during your holiday gathering, consider a boarding kennel. You may feel a bit guilty at first, but consider that your dog and your guests will all be safe. A boarding kennel may be the perfect answer for everyone.

You may have the friendliest dog in the world, but even friendly dogs can lash out when stressed or provoked. Take steps to keep your dog as stress-free as possible during the holiday season. You, your dog and your guests will all be the better for it.

If you have suffered a dog bite, you need a personal injury attorney on your side. Call our offices today for a free case evaluation. Our team of attorneys is here for you. Call now.

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5876554199_4d07253843_zDog Bite Prevention Week begins Sunday, May 17, 2015. Originating with the AVMA, American Veterinary Medical Association, the idea of the week is to teach people how to avoid dog bites and what to do if one should occur.

Many people mistakenly think that their family pet will not bite. The truth is this: any dog with teeth can and will bite. Even the family pet. Knowing how to live with, supervise, and react to your dog can help minimize the chances of a bite.

With children. If you have a mixture of dogs and children in your home, you need to teach your kids to respect the animal. Even the most patient and tolerant dogs need a bit of alone time now and then. Teach your children not to bother the dog when it is eating, sleeping, or clearly trying to be alone.

With strangers. Do not force your dog to interact with strangers if it doesn’t seem comfortable doing so. A dog that is shy or fearful around people it doesn’t know is more likely to bite than one that is comfortable with new people. You can aid this by socializing your puppy from a young age. If you adopt an adult dog, slowly and regularly introducing it to new situations is far safer than bombarding it with the unfamiliar.

With adults. Even adults in the family can lack basic knowledge of dog body language and behavior. This can be dangerous. Dogs that are ill, injured, or simply want to be left alone, can lash out. Do yourself a favor and read a book about canine body language. Watch a few videos on dog behavior. The more you understand about your animal, the less likely you are to get bit.

Your dog is part of your family, and each member of your family should be comfortable around your pet. By learning how to read dogs, teaching your children to respect animals, and not putting your dog in situations that make it fearful, you can help to prevent a bad situation from occurring in your home.

If you or a loved one are bitten by a dog that is not your own, you may be entitled to compensation. Our team is here to help you. We will review the facts of your case and advise you as to the best steps moving forward. Call us today to begin the process of compensation.

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