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What to do after a dog bite

Dog bite accidents can have devastating consequences, causing physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial burdens. If you or a loved one have been a victim of this type of incident, it is essential to understand your rights and seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney. Our team of experienced legal professionals are here to guide you through the process.

dog bite

How Often Do Serious Dog Bites Happen?

While it is challenging to provide exact statistics on the likelihood of dog bite occurrence, several studies and organizations have compiled data to shed light on the issue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.5 million bites occur in the United States each year. Out of these incidents, around 800,000 require medical attention, and roughly 386,000 require treatment in an emergency department. While the majority of cases result in minor injuries, serious cases can lead to severe physical harm, permanent scarring, and emotional trauma.


It is important to note that certain breeds may be associated with a higher risk. However, it is essential to approach this data with caution, as breed-specific legislation and stereotypes can unfairly target certain dog breeds. Responsible pet ownership, including proper socialization, training, and supervision, plays a significant role in reducing the risk.


Factors such as a dog's temperament, previous history of aggression, and the owner's ability to control and manage the dog also contribute to the occurrence of serious dog bites. Educating both dog owners and the public on responsible pet ownership, recognizing warning signs of aggression, and implementing appropriate safety measures can help reduce the frequency of serious incidents.


If you have experienced a serious dog bite, it is important to seek immediate medical attention and consult with legal professionals to understand your rights and potential courses of action.


The Steps you should take after a dog bite


Seek Immediate Medical Attention

If you have been bitten by a dog, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention, especially if the bite is serious or deep. Here are some important reasons why seeking medical care is essential:

  1. Assessing the Severity of the Injury: A healthcare professional will evaluate the extent of the injury, determine if any underlying damage has occurred, and provide appropriate medical treatment. They can assess the risk of infection, nerve damage, and other potential complications associated with the bite.

  2. Preventing Infections: The dog bite wound carries the risk of infection due to the presence of bacteria in a dog's mouth. Medical professionals can properly clean and dress the wound, reducing the chance of infection. They may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent or treat any infection that may have already developed.

  3. Tetanus Vaccination: Depending on the circumstances and the individual's vaccination history, a tetanus shot may be necessary to protect against tetanus infection. Medical professionals can assess the need for a tetanus vaccination and administer it if required. In very rare occurrences if it is a stray dog that bit you, you may also need a rabies vaccination.

  4. Addressing Potential Complications: In some cases, bites can cause deeper tissue damage, nerve or tendon injuries, or other complications that may require specialized medical attention. Prompt medical evaluation ensures that any potential complications are identified and treated promptly.

  5. Documenting the Injury: Seeking medical attention creates an official record of the incident and the associated injuries. This documentation can be important for legal purposes, such as filing an insurance claim or pursuing legal action against the dog owner.

Remember, even if the bite appears minor, it is still recommended to consult a healthcare professional. They can provide appropriate guidance and ensure that the wound is properly cared for to minimize the risk of complications.


Identify the Dog’s Owner

If you have been bitten by a dog and need to identify the dog's owner, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Gather Information: If possible, try to obtain any available information about the dog and its owner. This may include the owner's name, address, phone number, or any other identifying details. If there were witnesses to the incident, try to obtain their contact information as well.

  2. Local Area: Take note of the location where the bite occurred. If it happened in a residential area, ask neighbors if they are familiar with the dog and its owner. They may be able to provide you with contact information or additional details.

  3. Animal Control or Local Authorities: Contact your local animal control agency or local authorities to report the incident. They can help investigate the incident, identify the owner, and provide guidance on legal procedures or next steps.

  4. Medical Records: If you sought medical attention for your injuries, the medical records may contain information about the incident, including details of the dog owner. Provide this information to relevant authorities if necessary.

  5. Community Resources: Check if your community has online forums, social media groups, or community websites where you can share information about the incident. Others in your community may have knowledge of the dog and its owner.

  6. Legal Assistance: If you are facing difficulties in identifying the dog's owner or require legal support, consult a personal injury attorney. They can guide you through the legal process, help gather evidence, and determine the best course of action for your situation.

Remember, it is important to prioritize your safety and well-being when attempting to identify the dog's owner. If you believe the dog poses a danger to the community, notify the appropriate authorities to ensure the necessary precautions are taken.


Obtain Insurance Information

If you have been bitten by a dog and need to obtain insurance information related to the incident, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Exchange Information: If possible, try to exchange information with the dog owner at the scene of the incident. Request their full name, contact number, and address. Additionally, ask for their insurance provider and policy details, if available.

  2. Witnesses: If there were any witnesses present during the incident, ask if they can provide any information about the dog owner's insurance coverage. They may have seen or heard the owner mention their insurance company or policy.

  3. Local Authorities: Report the incident to local authorities or animal control. They may be able to gather information about the dog owner and their insurance coverage as part of their investigation.

  4. Medical Records: If you sought medical attention for your injuries, the medical records may contain information about the dog owner's insurance. Contact the healthcare provider who treated you and inquire about any insurance details associated with the incident.

  5. Personal Injury Attorney: Consider consulting a personal injury attorney who specializes in dog bite cases. They have experience dealing with insurance companies and can help you navigate the process of obtaining insurance information and filing a claim.

  6. Insurance Company Research: If you have some information about the dog owner, you can conduct research to identify their insurance company. Online searches, public records, or contacting local insurance agents may provide insights into the dog owner's insurance coverage.

  7. Legal Proceedings: In some cases, if identifying the insurance information becomes challenging, your attorney may need to initiate legal proceedings to obtain the necessary information through the legal discovery process.

Remember, it is important to consult with a legal professional who can guide you through the specific steps required to obtain insurance information in your jurisdiction and provide assistance in filing a claim if necessary.


Document the Bite

Documenting a dog bite incident is crucial for various reasons, including legal purposes and ensuring accurate records of the incident. Here are some important steps to follow when documenting a dog bite:

  1. Photograph the Injury: Take clear and detailed photographs of the bite wounds as soon as possible after the incident. Capture the location, size, and depth of the wounds from different angles. These photographs serve as valuable evidence to support your claim and show the severity of the injury.

  2. Document the Circumstances: Write down a detailed account of the incident while the details are still fresh in your memory. Include information such as the date, time, and location of the incident, a description of the dog involved, and any relevant details about the owner or circumstances surrounding the incident.

  3. Medical Records: Keep copies of all medical records related to the dog bite. This includes hospital or emergency room visits, medical examination reports, treatment records, prescriptions, and any other relevant documentation. These records provide evidence of the medical treatment received and the extent of the injuries.

  4. Maintain a Journal: Consider keeping a journal to document the progress of your recovery. Note any physical pain, emotional distress, or limitations resulting from the bite. This journal can serve as a record of the ongoing impact of the incident on your life and may be useful for legal purposes.

  5. Witness Statements: If there were witnesses to the dog bite, obtain their contact information and ask them to provide a written statement describing what they saw. Their statements can strengthen your case by providing additional perspectives and corroborating the events surrounding the incident.

  6. Financial Records: Keep track of any expenses incurred as a result of the dog bite, such as medical bills, medication costs, therapy or counseling fees, and lost wages due to missed work. These records are important for accurately calculating the damages and seeking compensation for your losses.

  7. Correspondence and Communications: Maintain copies of any written or electronic communication related to the incident. This includes emails, text messages, or letters exchanged with the dog owner, witnesses, insurance companies, or legal representatives.

It is crucial to consult with a personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process of documenting the dog bite incident effectively and help protect your legal rights. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific circumstances and jurisdiction.


Civil Liability For Dog Bite Injuries

Civil liability for dog bite injuries refers to the legal responsibility of a dog owner or another responsible party to compensate the victim for the injuries and damages resulting from a dog bite incident. The specific laws regarding dog bite liability can vary between jurisdictions, but there are some common principles that apply in many places. Here are key points to consider regarding civil liability for dog bite injuries:

  1. Strict Liability: In some jurisdictions, dog owners may be held strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs. This means that the owner can be held responsible for the damages regardless of whether they were aware of the dog's aggressive tendencies or previous bite history.

  2. Negligence: This means that the injured person must prove that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care in controlling or restraining the dog, leading to the bite incident. Negligence can include actions such as failing to leash the dog, inadequate supervision, or ignoring known aggressive behavior.

  3. Statutory Regulations: Some jurisdictions have specific statutes that govern dog bite liability. These statutes may outline the criteria for holding the owner liable, establish defenses (such as trespassing or provocation), and specify any limitations or exceptions to liability.

  4. Contributory or Comparative Negligence: Contributory negligence jurisdictions may reduce or eliminate damages if the injured person's actions contributed to the dog bite incident. Comparative negligence jurisdictions may reduce the compensation proportionate to the injured person's degree of fault.

  5. Damages: In dog bite injury cases, compensatory damages may be awarded to the victim. These can include medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and potentially even punitive damages in cases of extreme negligence or intentional harm.

What About Criminal Liability for Dog Bite Injuries?

Criminal liability for dog bite injuries refers to the potential legal consequences faced by the dog owner or responsible party under criminal law. While civil liability focuses on compensating the victim for their injuries, criminal liability involves punishment for actions that violate criminal statutes. The criminal charges and penalties for dog bite injuries vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the case.


Here are some key points to consider regarding criminal liability for dog bite injuries:

  1. Dangerous Dog Laws: Many jurisdictions have specific laws that address dangerous dogs or dog-related offenses. These laws typically define what constitutes a dangerous dog and outline the responsibilities of owners to prevent harm to others. Violating these laws, such as allowing a known dangerous dog to cause injury, can result in criminal charges.

  2. Criminal Negligence: In some cases, if a dog owner's actions or lack of action amount to a severe disregard for the safety of others, they may face criminal charges of negligence or reckless endangerment. This typically requires proving that the owner knew or should have known about the dog's dangerous propensities and failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent harm.

  3. Aggravated Assault or Battery: In situations where the dog bite results in severe injuries or intentional harm, the owner may face charges of aggravated assault or battery. These charges typically require proving that the owner intentionally or recklessly caused serious harm to another person using their dog as a weapon.

  4. Criminal Penalties: The criminal penalties for dog bite injuries can vary widely depending on the jurisdiction and the severity of the offense. They may include fines, probation, community service, mandatory dog training or behavior programs, and even imprisonment in more serious cases.

  5. Prosecution and Legal Process: Criminal liability for dog bite injuries is typically pursued by the local prosecuting authority, such as the district attorney's office. The burden of proof lies with the prosecution, who must establish the elements of the specific criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

It's important to consult with a criminal defense attorney or contact local law enforcement to understand the specific criminal laws and potential consequences related to dog bite injuries in your jurisdiction. They can provide guidance and legal representation if you are facing criminal charges or need assistance navigating the legal process.


How Much Can I Recover From a Dog Bite Injury Claim?

he amount you can recover from a dog bite injury claim depends on various factors, including the severity of the injury, the impact on your life, and the laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. Here are some key considerations when determining the potential compensation for a dog bite injury claim:

  1. Medical Expenses: You may be entitled to compensation for all past, current, and future medical expenses related to the dog bite injury. This can include hospital bills, doctor visits, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and any other necessary medical treatments.

  2. Lost Wages: If the dog bite injury caused you to miss work or resulted in a loss of earning capacity, you may be eligible to claim compensation for lost wages. This can include both past and future income that you would have earned if not for the injury.

  3. Pain and Suffering: Dog bite injuries can cause physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish. Compensation for pain and suffering aims to provide financial relief for the physical and emotional hardship endured as a result of the incident.

  4. Scarring and Disfigurement: If the dog bite resulted in permanent scarring or disfigurement, you may be entitled to compensation for the physical and psychological impact of the visible scars or disfigurement.

  5. Rehabilitation and Therapy: In some cases, dog bite injuries may require ongoing rehabilitation, therapy, or counseling. The cost of these services may be included in your compensation claim.

  6. Property Damage: If the dog bite incident resulted in damage to personal property, such as torn clothing or broken items, you may be eligible to claim compensation for the repair or replacement costs.

  7. Punitive Damages: In exceptional cases where the dog owner's conduct was particularly egregious, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages are intended to punish the responsible party and deter similar behavior in the future.

It is important to consult with a personal injury attorney who specializes in dog bite cases to assess the specific details of your situation and determine the potential value of your claim. They will consider the relevant factors and use their experience to negotiate with the insurance company or represent you in court to seek fair compensation for your injuries and losses.


Consult a Lawyer

If you have been involved in a dog bite incident, it is highly recommended to consult a personal injury lawyer who specializes in these types of cases. Remember, dog bite laws can vary depending on your jurisdiction, so it is important to consult with a lawyer who is familiar with the laws in your area. They can provide personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.


That is why you should call the experienced attorneys at Demesmin and Dover Law Firm. We care about getting you the compensation you deserve and the care you need for your injuries. So call today at 866-954-6673 for your free consultation.

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