Important Steps to Follow After a Dog Bite
According to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control, 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year, and 800,000 of those bites warrant medical attention. If there are 328.2 million people in the US, this means a dog bites 1 out of every 73 people. This will certainly not deter the vast majority of the population from owning dogs, and we are not saying it should. However, because dogs are so popular, with 53% of American households owning at least one furry friend of their own, we think it is important to be familiar with the proper steps to follow in the case that you encounter a dog bite. As personal injury lawyers, we represent clients who have been impacted by dog bites and work hard to defend their rights. If you find yourself with a dog bite, we recommend taking the following measures:
- Tend to the wound.
Before you think about taking legal action, it is important to tend to the wound and seek medical care. You will want to wash the wound and slow the bleeding with a clean cloth. If possible, apply antibiotic cream and wrap the wound in a sterile bandage until you are able to see a doctor. Your doctor will be able to tend to the specific needs of your wound and give you aftercare instructions. As with any wound, you will want to watch out for signs of infection, such as swelling, redness, prolonged pain, and fever. Make sure to keep records of the doctor’s visit, hospital visit, and any copies of bills.
- Get the names and contact information of the dog’s owner.
Even if the wound seems minor, it will be in your best interest to get the names and contact information of the dog’s owner. In the process of tending to the wound, you could find that the wound is more severe than you originally thought or that you have an infection that requires professional medical care and accrues bills. If the owner has liability insurance, you will want to obtain that information as well.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
If this dog bite turns into a personal injury case, you will want the witnesses to defend your side. Having their information handy can help later if you and the dog owner disagree about the specifics of the situation. If you do not know who owns the dog, contacting the witnesses can help you find them. Animal control authorities might be able to trace the dog’s owner from your description and the descriptions of the witnesses.
- Take pictures of the injuries, the dog, and the area where the dog bite occurred.
Having these pictures on hand will help protect you down the line in case you seek legal help. They will provide evidence for your version of the story and help us seek justice for your situation.
- Report the event to animal control authorities.
As their title suggests, animal control authorities are responsible for enforcing laws related to animal control. They capture and impound dangerous and stray animals and investigate cases of animal cruelty. Their role becomes especially important if the owner is neglecting the animal or if you simply cannot identify the owner. The owner might be asked to place the dog under a 10-day quarantine period because a rabies-infected animal can only transmit the disease after clinical signs have developed. The animal control authorities might pick up the dog from the owner for this purpose. If the animal is healthy and not exhibiting these signs beyond the tenth day, it can be determined that they were not shedding the rabies virus at the time of the bite. The animal control department will also be able to tell you if the dog has attacked someone before. Getting this information could be vital to winning your case.
If you need legal representation after a dog bite, the personal injury lawyers at Scarzafava, Basdekis & Dadey, PLLC will be on your side. Call us at (607) 228-8404 or contact us online and we will walk you through the process.