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What happens with dog bite injuries and pre-existing conditions?

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2024 | Dog Bites

Dog bites can cause many types of serious injuries. They include fractures, nerve damage and disfigurement.

In Wisconsin, victims may wonder if they can receive compensation if the incident exacerbates pre-existing conditions.

Pre-existing conditions

Wisconsin operates under strict liability laws concerning dog bites. They hold dog owners responsible for any injuries their pets inflict, regardless of the animal’s past behavior. This means that victims can pursue compensation for their injuries, including medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Sometimes, a dog bite exacerbates pre-existing conditions, such as injuries or medical issues the victim already had. Determining compensation can be more complex. The dog owner remains liable for the injuries caused by the bite.

However, assessment is necessary for the extent to which the pre-existing condition is worse. Here are a few examples of pre-existing conditions a dog bite can worsen.

  • Scarring and Scar Tissue: The trauma from the bite can lead to additional scarring or worsen the appearance of existing scars
  • Nerve Damage: There can be more pain, numbness, tingling or other neurological symptoms in an area that already has nerve damage
  • Orthopedic Conditions: Dog bites can worsen arthritis, joint pain or musculoskeletal injuries, for example, through more pain and inflammation in affected joints or tissues
  • Infections and Immune Disorders: A dog bite can introduce bacteria or pathogens into the body, leading to infection or systemic illness

Psychological, skin, chronic and sensory issues are some other conditions that a dog bite can worsen.


Victims must show that the dog bite directly contributed to worsening their existing injuries or medical issues. This often requires medical documentation and expert testimony.

Factors in compensation

Several factors influence the compensation for dog bite injuries that worsen pre-existing conditions. These may include the severity of the pre-existing condition, the extent of exacerbation caused by the dog bite and the resulting impact on the victim’s quality of life and ability to work.

It is possible to get compensation after a dog bite even if you have pre-existing injuries. Proving causation does require thorough documentation.