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What to Do if a Dog Bites You: 7 Key Steps to Take

According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 5 people need medical attention after being bitten by a dog. Almost 18% of dog bites result in bacterial infections, including rabies, MRSA and Tetanus.

Although dogs can be close companions and fun to be with, they can also bite. If they do, there are certain things that you should do. Read on to learn more about what to do if a dog bites you.

What to Do If a Dog Bites You

A dog can be a life-enhancing companion. They are fun to play with and there is even evidence that they reduce stress and increase well-being. It’s no wonder that 36% of households own at least one dog.

There is a risk associated with having so many dogs living in association with people. Dog bites as minor as a slight nip can result in infections. More serious dog attacks can be even more harmful with long term injuries and distress.

Knowing what to do in the event of a dog bite can reduce the impact of a bite. It can also reduce the likelihood of a repeat occurrence.

1. Protect Yourself

If you are bitten the first priority is to protect yourself and any vulnerable people around you.  It may be difficult, especially if you are in pain, but stay calm. Turn your body away from the dog and avoid eye contact with the dog.

Put something between you and the dog. A jacket or bag will do just fine. Wait for the dog to move away.

2. Medical Attention

Immediately once you are safe, you should seek medical attention. Wash any wound, using soap and water. Apply an antibiotic cream to a minor wound and then dress it with a clean bandage.

Seek the advice of a healthcare professional if the wound becomes sore, warm, or swollen. If the dog was acting strangely, you should also seek professional help. If you become feverish, consult a medical professional.

Wounds that are bleeding should have pressure applied to stop the bleeding. If it doesn’t stop, call 911 or see a healthcare professional immediately. Any deep wound where the bone is exposed or if you are in extreme pain should be treated by a medical professional immediately.

If you don’t know whether the dog has been vaccinated against rabies or it’s been more than 5 years since your last tetanus shot, seek immediate medical professional care.

Follow your doctor’s advice. This is the best way to ensure a quick and effective recovery. Return to your doctor if you have any further problems such as infection, pain, or your recovery is not as quick as expected.

3. Record Information

If you are able to, record as much information as you can about the dog bite incident at the scene. If you are not able to do this ask a companion, friend, or family member to do so.

Exchange contact information. Get the details of name, address, phone number and even e-mail address of the dog’s owner and any witnesses. Witnesses may be key to any insurance claim or legal action.

Ask eyewitnesses to write down what they saw while it is fresh in their minds. Ask them to let you have a copy of these notes.

Take photographs of the scene including the dog. Take photographs of any wound.

Find out from the dog owner if they have any proof of rabies vaccinations. Check any documentation and take copies. Contact the dog’s veterinarian and ask if the vaccinations are current and pass this information on to your healthcare professional.

4. Report to Animal Control and Police

If a dog is capable of biting you, it may also bite other people. To help prevent it from happening again, report the incident to animal control. The local animal control agency may carry out an investigation.

An investigation by the local animal control agency may be helpful to you if you decide to make a case for a personal injury claim. Find out the details of any investigation and who to contact for feedback.

File a report with the police. If you wish to prevent a further incident, it may be necessary for the police to intervene.

5. Save Documentary Evidence

Organize any documentary information you have collected. Contact details, photographs, witness statements, and vaccination documentation are easily lost. Keep any details of medical treatment, costs, and photographs of the wound.

They will be needed if you hope to claim costs against the dog owner’s insurance company or if you make a personal injury claim.

6. Check the Dog Owner’s Insurance

Many dog owners are insured against claims in the event of their dog biting someone. Get information from the dog owner about their insurance company including any claim number.

Don’t discuss your medical situation with either the dog owner or their insurance company. Their insurance company may approach you for information or seek to interview you. Stay polite and courteous but don’t allow yourself to be drawn into this.

7. Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

A personal injury lawyer can assist you with a lawsuit if that is necessary. A lawyer can also assist you in making a claim against the dog owner’s insurance company or the dog’s owner.

After years of experience in similar cases, a personal injury lawyer will know what amount of compensation you should expect and how best to get it. You may need this compensation to cover the cost of medical treatment, lost earnings, or other legitimate losses.

The legal process can be complex. Handling a claim can be difficult to do on your own. Having an attorney handle all the communication with the insurance company or the dog owner takes the pressure off you allowing you to concentrate on your recovery.

Move On

Now that you know what to do if a dog bites you, you will want to move on. If you have injuries, you should concentrate on your recovery. Let a personal injury lawyer handle the rest.

Have a chat about hiring a personal injury attorney.

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It's free to speak with us about your case, and if you hire us, we don't get paid unless we win.

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! NOTICE ! No Legal Advice Intended. This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal issues or problems.

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