Last Updated: 2/16/2023

Can a dog bite cause nerve damage? A dog bite can cause nerve damage. A dog's powerful jaws can injure not only nerves, but also tendons, muscles and bones.

Ways a Dog Bite Can Cause Nerve Damage

Neuropraxia is the least serious type of nerve damage because it stretches nerves but doesn't severe them. It can occur from crushing injuries caused by the bite or when an attack results in a dislocation or fracture. Recovery can take anywhere from a few hours to several months.

Axonotmesis is a serious injury that a dog bite can cause, damaging nerves and muscle and motor function. Recovery is much longer, from a few months to years.

Neurotmesis is the most severe type of injury a dog bite – it occurs when the nerve is severed. If it's a clean cut, it's sometimes possible to repair the nerve. One type of procedure involves regenerating the nerves. Recovery will still take time because it's a slow process. But in many circumstances the damage is irreparable. When function doesn't return, it can cause abnormal sensations or movements.

Signs of Nerve Damage after a Dog Bite

Motor nerves control actions and movements. They do this by passing information from the spinal cord and brain to the muscles.

Signs of motor nerve damage may include:

  • weakness;
  • paralysis;
  • fasciculation (twitching); and
  • muscle atrophy (muscle wasting).

Sensory nerves affect sensation (such as pain). These nerves pass information from the muscles and skin to the brain and spinal cord.

Signs of sensory nerve damage may include:

  • burning;
  • numbness;
  • pain;
  • prickling/tingling; and
  • difficulties with positional awareness.

How Nerve Damage May Impact a Dog Bite Claim

Nerve damage can occur to the face, hands or other body parts. It's possible that additional injuries occurred, such as fractures. Open wounds are at risk of infection, and a bite may cause disfigurement. These are all important considerations when determining the value of a dog bite claim.

Dog owner liability depends on state laws, so it's important to understand how that may affect a claim. In Iowa, it's fairly easy to hold an owner liable for damages. The only exception that may apply is if the victim acted unlawfully, and it contributed to the injury. Breaking into someone's home and getting attacked by the family's dog would qualify as acting unlawfully. It is likely that the owner will not want to part with his or her dog after the attack, so familiarize yourself with the common challenges of a dog bite claim in Des Moines and how to address them.

Recoverable damages include the medical costs to treat the injury. Nerve damage injuries may require surgery. If injuries are severe, cosmetic surgery may be needed to improve appearance.

Lost earnings are another form of compensation that may be available in a dog bite claim. This applies to any missed time from work while healing and recovering. It may even include anticipated earnings if the attack leaves the person disabled.

Nerve damage may allow for the recovery of damages such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life. Permanent scarring may allow for compensation for disfigurement. To better understand one's right to file a claim and the types of compensation to seek, contact a dog bite attorney at Walker, Billingsley and Bair. We handle dog bite cases -- just fill out our contact form for quick response.

Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.