dog bite
Dog BitePersonal Injury

Dogs are wonderful additions to a family. However, accidents and situations can happen.

Nearly 4.5 million people are bitten each year by a dog with 1 out 5 bites becoming infected. Many people are not sure what to do if they are bitten by a dog. Should you call the police? Go to the hospital?

Here is everything you need to know about what you should do if you get bit by a dog:

Common Injuries from a Dog Bite

If you are bitten by a dog, more injuries may be present than just the bite wounds alone. The most common injuries from a dog bite include but are not limited to:

  • Abrasions
  • Punctures
  • Rabies
  • Lacerations
  • Tetanus
  • Avulsion—skin torn away from the body
  • Nerve damage
  • Death

These injuries can range from simple skin lacerations to full-blown, life-long nerve damage. Many people have lost their life after being mauled by a dog.

What Should You Do When You Are Bitten by a Dog?

If you are bitten by a dog, several things need to happen to ensure both your safety and proper record-keeping of the incident. If you are bitten by a dog, you should follow the next steps:

Don’t panic

The most important thing to do after a dog bite is not to panic. Get away from the animal as quickly as possible. Do your best to stay calm and get soap and water to immediately wash the wound.

Dog bites can be incredibly painful, so move with caution as you cleanse the bite. Stay calm as panicking can bring the situation from bad to worse.

Seek medical attention

Unfortunately, some dog bites can lead to serious infections. Seek medical attention immediately as the situation can be critical. Getting medical care sooner rather than later can also serve as evidence to substantiate the severity of the injury.

If your wound is continually bleeding, wrap the wound and apply strong pressure while you wait. Medical intervention should not be bypassed.

Assess the situation

When medical help is on the way, assess the situation. Where is the dog now? Is it still acting aggressively? Be sure to get to a safe place while you wait for help.

If the owner is nearby, inform them of what happened. Whether or not the animal is friendly is irrelevant as the dog has now bitten you. Survey the area so you can tell your story to animal control and the police.

Take pictures

It is vital to take pictures of the entire scene. Snap a photo of the surrounding area, the wound and bite mark, and any other relevant image.

Include close-up photos of the bite mark and any additional injuries caused by the dog. Do your best to get a picture of the dog that bit you so it can be easily identified.

File a police report

The next step is to call the police and file a police report regarding the dog bite incident. You need to prioritize having a police report stating what occurred during the incident as you will need the record of it when you file a lawsuit or insurance claim.

This police report helps attorneys determine the legal liability of the incident, and whether or not there is a legal claim. The report additionally serves as documentation should the dog ever bite another person.

Get owner’s contact information

If you cannot get the owner’s contact information at the same time the incident occurs, it is imperative to get it now. You must locate the owner of the dog and obtain their contact and insurance information.

You need this information to file a lawsuit after getting bitten by their dog. Any relevant information can help hold this negligent member accountable for your injury.

Contact a personal injury attorney

The most important step after a dog bite is to hire a personal injury lawyer. A dog bite attorney is well-versed in this niche of law and will help you hold the wrongdoer accountable.

Each state follows their own set of legal rules. In addition, federal laws may be applicable to protect you in the event of a dog bite. A reputable attorney will examine the facts of your case and determine if you have a legal claim. If there is enough evidence, they will represent you on your behalf and get you the compensation that you deserve after the traumatic event.

What Damages Can You Recover?

If you suffered a dog bite, you may have a legal claim to recover the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Loss of wages/job
  • Potential future loss of wages
  • Wrongful death
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of companion
  • And more

If you win the case, you will either get paid out of pocket or through the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance. It will be determined in court.

Who is Liable?

If you were bitten by a dog, it may seem like a clean-cut case. However, the situation itself will help to determine how liable the dog owner is for your injuries. In order to determine who is liable for the dog bite incident, here are some things to consider:

Did you provoke the dog?

If you were playing with the dog, you may want to consider if you played a role in provoking it to bite you. Be aware that some laws exist to protect the dog owner should you have played a role in instigating the attack.

Did you trespass on private property?

If you trespassed on private property, you may be partially liable for the incident. This situation can be considered comparative negligence, where you played a role in the incident. If the property was abandoned at the time of the incident, you may bear partial liability as you were legally not allowed to be there.

Bottom Line

If you were bitten by a dog, you must act—and fast. Seeking medical attention, gathering the necessary dog owner information, and filing a police report is imperative.

Contacting a top-industry personal injury attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve. They will argue that the negligent party is accountable for your injuries.