Dog bites are almost never something that you can see coming far ahead of time. Chances are that if it's not your pet, the dog is either a stray that you weren't expecting to run into or a dog belonging to a friend or neighbor that's never been threatening to you before. Being bitten unexpectedly is a bit of a shock, so it's important to be aware of what you should do after a dog bite so that you can take action quickly.
Get Medical Attention
If you're bitten by a stray that you've never seen before, you probably don't need to be told to seek out medical treatment. However, it's much more common to skip medical treatment for seemingly minor bites when the victim knows the dog – or at least knows the dog's owner. You may be worried that you'll get the owner of the dog in trouble, or you may simply not want to bother if the injury seems minor.
However, you should seek treatment for any bite that breaks the skin, no matter what the circumstances. Sure, it's probably unlikely that your neighbor's dog has something like rabies (although you can't be certain). But even if there's nothing wrong with the dog, bacteria that was in the dog's mouth or on your skin could enter your bloodstream through the wound and lead to a serious infection. Having a medical professional clean and dress the wound can significantly decrease the chances of infection as well as other complications, like scarring.
Report the Bite
If victims are sometimes reluctant to seek medical treatment for dog bites, they're often even more reluctant to report them to the authorities. However, there are a few reasons why you should. A dog that's bitten once is more likely to bite again, and the next injury might not be minor. What's more, over half of the 4.7 million people who are bitten each year are children. By making the report, you're doing what you can to protect the next potential victim.
To report the bite, contact your local Animal Control Department. They'll take a statement from you as well as a statement from the owner and from any witnesses to the bite. Pictures of the bite and your medical records may also be included in the report.
Consider Legal Action
Once you've reported the bite, the authorities will decide what next happens to the dog. If this is the dog's first report, it will most likely only be quarantined until it can be determined that the dog is healthy. However, if the dog has been reported before, more serious action may be taken.
Either way, you have to consider the possibility of filing a lawsuit. Dog bites can be costly, with the average bite-related hospital stay costing over $18,000. Even if your treatment is less expensive, your health insurance company may deny the claim if they believe the owner should be held responsible. The home owner is usually liable if they have reason to believe that the dog would bite someone – for example, if it's bitten before or if it's tried to bite before. And even if the dog has never displayed aggressive behavior, the owner may be liable if the owner was negligent – for example, if they were disobeying leash laws.
An experienced dog bite lawyer in your area can help you decide whether or not you have a case. Whether or not you want to file a lawsuit, it's a good idea to get a consultation from a professional like the Law Office of Daniel E Goodman, LLC so that you can find out what your rights are and whether you have a good case.Share