Dog bites are common in the United States. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs bite over 4.5 million people every year. Additionally, more than 800,000 people seek medical treatment for their dog bite injuries.
Typically, dog attacks occur when a dog feels provoked, threatened, or scared. However, there are times when a dog will bite a person for no good reason. Injuries can be severe and even life-threatening if complications, such as infections, arise.
Seeking medical care immediately after getting bitten by a dog is critical. A doctor might need to administer shots, stitch up any open wounds, and provide a course of antibiotics to prevent infection.
Below are the most important steps you should take if a dog bites you.
Identify the Owner of the Dog
Many dogs have owners. People sit with their dogs on the patio of a restaurant, walk them through the park, or jog with them on the sidewalk. You should determine whether the dog that bit you has an owner and notify them of what happened.
Obtain the dog owner’s name, contact information, and other essential details, such as whether the dog is up to date on its vaccinations. Call animal control immediately if you can’t find the owner or if the dog is a stray. Animal control can secure the dog and scan it for a microchip. They might need to keep the dog under surveillance if it has a history of rabies or violence against people.
Go to the Emergency Room
Once you leave the scene of the attack, go to a nearby hospital and see a doctor. You shouldn’t go home to wait and see if the wounds heal without medical attention. You put your health at risk by not undergoing an examination by a doctor.
The physician should evaluate your condition and determine the proper treatment to provide. They can stitch your open wounds shut and address other physical injuries you sustained. They might also administer injections, such as for tetanus or rabies, if you haven’t received them in a while or can’t remember the last time you got them, if necessary.
If the medical provider you see initially recommends follow-up care, listen to their instructions. You should return to the hospital or visit a specialist for additional treatment if necessary. Sometimes, dog bite victims need a series of shots over multiple days. Severe dog bites could require surgery to repair nerve damage and other internal injuries.
Document Your Injury
You can take pictures of your visible injuries immediately after the incident. Photographic evidence is valuable in a personal injury case. If you plan to pursue compensation from the dog’s owner or the insurance company, you need proof of what happened.
The photos you take should show the injury when it first happens and your progress as you recover. You can also take pictures of scarring or disfigurement caused by the dog bite. You might receive higher compensation if the injury causes permanent damage.
Documentation of a dog bite injury might also involve written notes. Keep track of your symptoms and any physical limitations you experience from the injury. Some people suffer reduced mobility or range of motion if the injury affects a limb or joint.
Keep a copy of every record related to your dog bite injury during your treatment. The documentation you maintain might include:
- Hospital records
- Imaging test results
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation notes
- Prescription medications
- Surgical reports
Keep Track of Expenses
Dog bite injuries often require medical care. That means you’ll receive various bills while recovering. Maintaining records of every expense you incur could benefit your case. Hold onto receipts from purchasing at-home medical products, such as bandaids or ointments. Receipts from prescriptions you buy can also serve as valuable evidence of your incurred costs.
Any expense related to your medical treatment is also necessary to maintain. You can keep the billing statements and invoices from every doctor and medical facility. Keeping a list of your out-of-pocket expenses is also crucial.
Report Your Lost Wages
If your injury prevents you from earning your usual income, you can ask your employer for a lost wage report. Documenting the hours and wages you can’t make while taking time off from your job or leaving during the day for doctor’s appointments is an excellent idea.
You can complete a lost wage report to show the income you couldn’t earn due to the dog bite. If you file an insurance claim, you might recover compensation for those lost wages.
Talk to Witnesses
Track down witnesses who saw the dog attack happen. If anyone was around at the time of your injury, you could ask for their names and phone numbers. They could testify during a trial if you file a lawsuit or provide the insurance company with a statement during your claim.
Witnesses can offer a detailed account of the events leading up to the incident. They can discuss where you were, what you were doing, and whether your actions might have contributed to the attack. Witnesses can support your version of the story if the dog bit you without provocation.
Hire a Lawyer
An experienced dog bite injury attorney can represent you in your case. You should seek legal representation immediately after the attack.
Your lawyer can investigate, gather evidence, and file a claim on your behalf. They can also negotiate an insurance settlement or litigate your case in court. You shouldn’t have to take on the responsibility of preparing a case when you have an injury to treat.
Since 2013, Gibson Hill Personal Injury has fought for the rights of our clients in Texas. We believe in holding people and companies liable for their misconduct that causes injuries. You can depend on our attorneys to be your advocates and pursue the maximum compensation you deserve.