Legal Guide

What to Do When Injured by a Dog

Dogs may be man's best friend, but these domestic creatures are still animals. Being bitten by a dog is a traumatic experience. These injuries are very painful and usually leave a nasty scar. If the dog's teeth pierce a nerve, lasting damage may occur. In some instances, dog bites can even be deadly.

It's impossible to predict if and when a dog may attack. That's why most local laws make owners liable if their dog bites another person. However, many people don't know the steps to take after being bitten. Here's what to do if you or a family member are ever injured by a dog.

1. Call the Police

Even if the bite seems minor, it's still a good idea to call the police. An officer will gather information and take a statement from the victim. They will also speak to any witnesses who can give a personal account of the attack. If the dog is still loose in the area, law enforcement will ensure animal control contains it. Filing a police report now may be beneficial down the road.

2. Seek Medical Attention

When it comes to dog bites, looks can be deceiving. Contrary to a well-known urban legend, a dog's mouth isn't cleaner than a human's mouth. Dog saliva contains a lot of bacteria, and even a tiny puncture can become infected. That's why every animal bite should be treated by a medical professional.

A doctor will flush the wound and may even prescribe antibiotics to prevent an infection. The bite may require stitches if it's large or jagged. If the dog isn't fully vaccinated, a series of rabies shots by also be necessary.

3. Talk to the Owner

Most pet owners want to do the right thing, and if their beloved pooch bites an unsuspected person, many will step up to the plate and take responsibility. Contact the animal's owner directly to let them know about the incident. The owner should pay for any medical treatments. They can also be held liable for lost wages and lasting pain and suffering.

It's sometimes possible to settle things amicably, bit some dog owners will put up a fight. For example, the owner might offer to pay all medical bills but refuse to compensate the victim for other damages. Others may claim the dog was provoked and refuse to take responsibility for the bite.

4. Contact a Lawyer

Many victims wonder if they can sue after a dog attack. The answer is yes. Owners are legally required to keep their pets secured at all times. If their dog bites a visitor or stranger, the owner can be held liable. Dog bite cases aren't always clear-cut, however. That's why letting a lawyer handle the details is always the best solution.

To win a case, an attorney must prove several things. First, they must prove the dog belongs to the alleged owner. Second, there must be evidence of the dog bite. Photos, police reports, and eyewitness statements are extremely helpful. It's also critical to show the animal attack was unprovoked. Finally, the lawyer must show proof of damages. Having medical documentation and expert witness testimonies are key.

Build a Legal Case After a Dog Bite

Dog bites are unpredictable. However, that doesn't mean the victim should pay out of pocket after an attack. The dog's owner is liable. Taking the proper steps following an animal bite will ensure you have enough evidence to build a case against the owner.

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