What to Do After a Dog Bite
Following these steps after a dog bite will help you get the compensation you deserve
Many people consider dogs “man’s best friend,” but unfortunately even a seemingly friendly dog can bite, potentially causing serious injury or even disfigurement. If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. Following these 5 steps after a dog bite will help ensure that you don’t have to suffer a financial loss due to the actions of someone else’s pet.
Step 1: Identify the Dog and Owner
Before leaving the scene of the dog bite, try to identify the dog that bit you or your loved one, and, if possible, locate the dog’s owner or caretaker. This is very important for two reasons. First of all, you need to know who to hold responsible for the incident if you decide to pursue a personal injury case. Secondly, you need to know if the dog had its rabies shots so you can get the right medical care.
Step 2: Get Medical Care
If the dog bite broke the skin, you should make getting medical care a priority. Not only is this important for your health, it also helps to document the incident. If your medical need is very urgent, you should skip step 1 and go straight to the hospital, perhaps leaving a friend to collect the necessary information from the dog owner.
Step 3: Report the Incident
You need to call the local animal control department or the sheriff’s office and report the dog bite in order to create a legal record of the incident. You should provide the authorities with the name and address of the owner if you have it.
Filing a report is vital even if your injury was minor. Don’t let the dog’s owner convince you to skip this step and sweep the matter under the rug because their pet is “good dog.” In the state of California, any dog owner can be held liable for damages caused by their pet biting unprovoked, even if the dog has never bit anyone before and was not previously known to be dangerous.
Step 4: Take Photographs
Photographic documentation of your injuries will be very important in helping to secure compensation at trial or in a settlement. You should take photos as soon as possible after the attack, and continue photographing your wounds as they heal to show any permanent scarring. You may also want to take photos of the scene where the bite happened, especially if you think that something like a broken fence or an overly long chain gave the dog the opportunity to bite you when you reasonably believed you were safe.
Step 5: Hire an Attorney
You will definitely want to hire an expert attorney to assist you with your dog bite injury case. Your attorney will assist you with gathering testimony from any eyewitnesses, establishing any prior history of dangerous behavior that the dog may have had, and identifying the types and amounts of compensation that you are entitled to. The Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas offers free case evaluations where you can learn more about what to do after a dog bite.