In the United States there are approximately 4.5 million reported incidents of dog bites each year. With 70 million dogs living in the US, the percentage of dogs that bite would seem to be about 6.4 percent. With many dog bites going unreported, however, those numbers may not accurately reflect the number of incidents that occur each year. If you or someone you know is ever bitten or attacked by a dog, what you do immediately after the attack is very important, both for your personal well-being and for your legal protection should you need to file a claim.
Get Medical Attention Right Away
If you’ve been bitten by a dog – no matter how minor the injury – it is imperative that you seek medical attention right away. Because canine teeth are rounded, in some instances where the teeth don’t break the skin, there can still be significant nerve damage or broken blood vessels. If the skin is broken – even slightly – the risk of infection is very high. In addition to infection, dogs have a slight amount of venom in their claws and teeth, which can have varying impacts on the human immune system. It is always best to seek medical attention immediately, no matter how minor the injuries seem.
Acquire Contact Information
Treat a dog bite like you would any other incident. Be sure to take photos of any injuries sustained and exchange contact information with the parties involved, whether it was your dog or someone else’s dog that was responsible for the attack. Be sure to also document information of any witnesses nearby. Information such as name, address and contact info will be crucial. Verification of the animal’s immunization is required at the very least, and should a legal claim ultimately be filed, these records become that much more important.
After the Incident
File a Report
Be sure to contact animal control and file a report as soon as possible. By filing a report, you will be helping limit future attacks like the one you experienced. In most cases, animal control will initiate an investigation into the incident, which can have an impact on any future litigation.
In addition to the photographs of injuries and medical receipts, keep track of any correspondence you have with the parties involved in the incident, such as witnesses, doctors, or attorneys. If you’ve been injured, document the pain, loss of mobility, swelling and the overall impact of the injuries you’ve sustained.
At some point after the incident, take time to write down the circumstances that led to the event. Be specific, noting:
- time of day,
- what you were doing,
- where you were going, etc.
Try and recall all the details you can. This should be done as soon as possible, as not to forget important details.
Contacting an Attorney
If injuries are sufficient or you feel action needs to be taken, contact an attorney right away. An attorney will help you assess the damage that you’ve incurred to help you navigate the process. Hiring an attorney that you trust ensures that you and the other party can come to a fair agreement and put an unfortunate situation behind you.