While dogs may be man’s best friend, it is true that not all dogs get along with humans. In fact, reports show that dog bite incidents are pretty common with an average of 4.5 million dog attacks yearly.
Most dog attacks can be prevented, and it is important to know how to approach an animal you are unfamiliar with. However, some attacks are a result of the negligence or recklessness of a dog owner. If this is the case, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim against the owner to you help cover medical or property damage expenses.
How you respond to the attack is critical, no matter what caused the attack. Remember to take these steps after you have been involved in a dog bite attack.
Move to a Sheltered Area
A good amount of dog bite attacks occur when an animal feels threatened or territorial. To reduce the risk of additional injuries after the initial attack, you should move to a protected area quickly, preferably something inside if it is available to you.
If the dog stays at the scene and continues to be aggressive, you should walk away slowly without turning your back to the animal. And, running away could make the dog see you as prey, and they may actually chase after you.
Assess the Injury
Dog bite injuries can range in seriousness – from just a nip to a more serious injury that requires surgery. As quickly as possible, you need to assess the severity of your injuries. If you do not have any broken skin or you have broken skin with no bleeding, you can clean and bandage the injury site yourself.
If you are bleeding, you should place a clean towel over the affected area and apply pressure. If the blood stops by itself, go ahead and clean the wound with water and an antiseptic before applying a bandage.
Pay attention to the shape of the wounded area. Puncture wounds from an animal’s teeth are prone to infection. So, even if the injury seems minor, you may want to seek medical attention. Your medical provider may need update your vaccinations or think it is necessary for you to have a prescription to prevent any potential infection.
If the bleeding does not stop with applied pressure, you should go immediately to the emergency room.
If you perform some initial first aid to your wounds, take pictures of all of your injuries. You may need photos for your insurance company or any personal injury claim proceedings in the future.
Gather Information About the Accident
It is important to collect information about the accident. As with any accident, law enforcement or legal representatives may need this type of information in the future. If you can get it, you should take down the name, address, and contact information of the dog’s owner.
If you have the chance to speak to the dog’s owner, you want to ask for the dog’s vet information so you can double check with them and make sure that the dog is up to date on their vaccinations and isn’t suffering from transmittable disease.
Also ask for contact information from any witnesses that may have seen the incident. If you need to file a personal injury claim, witness statements could support your account of the incident and your attorney may need to contact them further.
File a Report
Once any necessary medical treatment has been received, you should file a dog bite report. This report can be made to your local animal control provider or city or county officials. You should include as much information as possible in your report, but estimate or guess at the facts, just state them as you know them. For example, include as detailed of a description of the dog’s behavior as you can remember, but do not speculate on conditions that the dog may have exhibited.
Your report may corroborate other reports regarding the same animal, which could indicate an aggressive pattern of behavior that the owner is responsible for controlling. The report will also help the proper official to enforce leash laws and other relevant laws and restrictions.
Record Changes in Your Symptoms
As you start to recover from the injuries you sustained, pay attention to additional symptoms. Nerve damage, which is serious, may not be immediately apparent. Also, follow any medical order you received from the physician at your initial visit and seek immediate attention for any new medical symptoms. If you should develop any new visible injuries from the attack, be sure to take more pictures as/if injuries appear.
Consult with a Personal Injury Lawyer
Not every dog attack will qualify as a personal injury, use these guidelines to minimize your injuries from a dog attack and make decisions about a claim. If you are unsure how to proceed, you should consult a personal injury lawyer with experience handling animal attack cases. At Hardee, Massey & Blodgett, LLP we offer free consultations before any claim is filed. So, if you are unsure about your rights and how to procced, call our office at 252-378-2525 and schedule an appointment with one of our experienced, reputable attorneys today.