Whether you’re walking down the sidewalk and a dog nips you while passing by, or a dog attacks you while not on a leash, bites can occur when you least expect them. In fact, according to The National Center for Biotechnology Information, over 337,000 dog bites result in emergency room visits each year.
Being bit by a dog can be a scary experience. Often, these situations seem to happen out of nowhere and many times can result in paralyzing fear. Whether they’re caused by a fluke accident or an owner’s carelessness, a dog bite can leave you feeling helpless, vulnerable and alone. What’s more, after your adrenaline wears off, the situation can begin feeling even more worrisome, complicated and sometimes, even intimidating.
With that in mind, there are certain steps that you should take as a bite victim in order to protect yourself, and ensure that you’re taken care of should there be any additional injuries or unforeseen repercussions.
Get the Medical Treatment You Need
First and foremost, it’s important that you ensure your injuries are tended to and that you’ve checked out by a medical professional. After all, when your adrenaline is high, injuries may not hurt as badly, and you may even have injuries that you’re not feeling at all while you’re in “fight or flight” mode. Even if you don’t feel like you’ve suffered any extensive injuries, it’s a good idea to be seen by a doctor so that they can give you a full exam, dress any wounds, and ensure you’re in the clear
Exchange Contact Information Similar to what you would do in a fender bender, it’s important to exchange contact information with the dog’s owner so that you can get in touch with them at a later date. You may need to connect with them to get more information about the dog’s history and vaccinations, or may need the information readily available to share with the proper authorities. Be sure you get the dog owner’s full name, their phone number, address, their dog’s age, and the dog’s breed, if possible.
Speak with Witnesses If anyone around you happened to see the incident, it’s important that you have a way to connect with them at a later date, especially if there’s a need to have someone else help verify your story. Even if they only saw part of what occurred, you’ll want to speak with each witness if possible and get their full name and phone number to follow up with later. Not only can this come in handy when it comes time to file an insurance claim, but it can also be a huge help should you ever need to seek legal assistance.
File an Animal Control Report This is a personal decision for you. If the bite is serious, you should definitely call as this may not be the first time the dog has injured someone. It’s important to ensure that you contact your local animal control, not only so that they can investigate the incident, but because, if possible, they may be able to help prevent any future dog bites from the dog that bit you. Even more, an investigation from animal control can often help you when it comes to your own legal case, should you need to file one.
Speak with a Lawyer It may not seem like getting legal counsel is necessary, especially if an incident is minor, but it’s always a good idea to speak with an attorney to learn more about your rights. Find a lawyer that specializes in dog bites, or that focuses on these types of injuries within their practice. By speaking to an expert right away, you’ll get a better idea of any deserved monetary compensation that you can pursue, including help with medical bills or time off work, and get a better understanding of the state laws that apply to your situation.
Although a dog bite can happen out of the blue, it’s important that you know exactly what to do if one should occur. Knowing the necessary steps to take if you get bit by a dog can help you to quickly gather the information you need, as well as to obtain the legal outcomes that you deserve as a victim. Though you may think that you can go through the motions on your own, connecting with legal counsel is incredibly important in scenarios like these, not only to ensure you know all of your options but to help you navigate the legal processes necessary to get any compensation you deserve.