Dogs are the most common pet in the United States; their unyielding loyalty and compassion for their owners makes them the perfect addition to a caring family. Because most dogs are so friendly and approachable, people often forget that they are animals and that their instincts as an animal will take over in certain situations. If the dog feels threatened or even is playing and the play get escalated or rough, there are times when a dog may bite. Which is why you should know what to do in case of a dog bite.
If you or someone you know has suffered a serious injury due to a dog bite (high medical bills and/or missed days at work) and were unable to work with the owner to get these bills paid for, you should consider consulting a personal injury attorney.
Dog Bites in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Control, dog attacks occur over 4.5 million times in the United States every year. Over half of the victims of dog bites are children under the age of 12, so children are more at risk for dog bites than adults. Furthermore, one out of every five dog bites per year require medical attention or in some cases even a visit to the hospital.
With these alarming statistics, it’s possible that you or at least someone you know may have already suffered personal injury in the hands of an aggressive or rabid dog and/or a careless owner. So, what should you do when a dog bites you?
What to Do in Case of a Dog Bite
Most dog bites are minor, but some can be very serious depending on the relative strength and size of the dog when compared to the victim. For example, a dog bite on a child caused by a 50 pound pit bull will most likely be more serious than if that same dog had bitten an adult.
The first question you should ask yourself when a dog bite takes place is if you know the attacking dog or not. If it belongs to someone in the neighborhood or the attack happened on the private property upon which the dog lives then you should speak to its owner and inform him or her of the situation.
First, check to see if the dog has been vaccinated properly. A dog bite by a dog with the proper vaccines is a lot less dangerous than that of a stray dog or the dog of a careless owner who hasn’t kept up with vaccinations.
Check for Proper Vaccination Documentation
Dog bites can cause infection, particularly to people with prior health conditions. A health condition can have an effect on how severe your wounds are, so people with weakened immune systems, like diabetes or liver disease are more prone to infection. So checking on the medical condition of the dog is extremely important.
If you know or can find the dog owner then he or she will most likely procure the proper vaccination documentation. You should follow up with the dog’s veterinarian or another animal care professional to ensure that the documents you were given are up to date and the dog is not infected in any way.
Dog is Not Vaccinated or Don’t Know Owner
If the attacking dog is not vaccinated properly or it is a stray dog and you have no way of finding an owner, you have to check your injuries for signs of infection. If your wounds are deep, the bleeding does not stop or you see redness, swelling and pus within a few days then there is a chance that your wounds are infected and you may need to visit a doctor to get antibiotic treatments.
Furthermore, you should talk to the animal control center in your area if the dog is unknown so that they can track it down and ensure that it does not attack anyone else.
Determine the Severity of the Wound
It almost goes without saying that it matters greatly if the wounds are severe or not. If it’s just minor scrapes and/or scratches then disinfecting the wound and applying a sterilized bandage should do the trick. You may not even need to visit a hospital or get involved.
However, if you have suffered puncture wounds or are losing a lot of blood then the bite may require medical attention and the dog owner may be liable for damages incurred by the attack. In such a case, you should seek the guidance of a skilled personal injury attorney.
Pursuing Legal Action From a Dog Bite
Sometimes, a dog attack is severe enough that pursuing legal action may be in your best interest, especially if you incurred significant medical expenses and/or had to take time off work. You should ask yourself if the time and money it will take to press charges are worth the effort or not, the answer to which depends on how serious the attack was and how much it cost you to recover from the attack.
If you are going to pursue legal action, you should determine if the dog attack was provoked or unprovoked; as this may have some bearing on the amount of compensation (or the possibility of compensation altogether) depending on the state you live in. As a general rule, dogs that are eating, feeding their pups or defending their territory should not be bothered lest they attack on instinct.
Dog Attack Claims
There are two ways that a personal injury from a dog attack claim can be processed. The case can either be settled out of court or go to trial. If possible, it is recommend to settle out of court. Hopefully, these tips will help you the next time you find yourself facing an aggressive dog.
Call our Personal Injury team at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.