What to Do if a Dog Attacks You: Understanding Your Legal Rights
Were you recently attacked by a dog?
About 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States every year and a large percentage of those attacks require medical attention and even lead to legal action.
Getting attacked by a dog can be traumatic for the victim and their friends or family. Be prepared by knowing your rights and what necessary measures to take after an attack occurs.
Read on to learn more about what to do if a dog attacks you.
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Get Information About the Dog and Its Owner
If a dog bites you, one of the first steps, aside from seeking the necessary medical attention if the situation is urgent, is to get the information from both the owner and their dog.
In most states, dogs require a license and to be registered to an owner. And just because a dog is with a human, doesn’t mean that person is their owner. Clarify if that person is indeed the owner and if not, ask for the owner’s information.
Be sure you get the information of the person who was with the dog at the time of the attack since they’ll be an eyewitness. At the very least, you should write down the name, breed, and age of the dog for your records if the owner isn’t able to supply you with more information at that time.
Go to the Doctor
If the bite is severe, don’t waste time driving to the doctor or hospital, simply call for an ambulance. While all dogs should be up-to-date on their vaccinations and vet visits but you won’t know that for sure so don’t mess around if the bite looks serious.
If the bite does not result in an urgent situation, you should still visit the doctor for a check-up. Let your physician know what happened as he may suggest administering a tetanus shot to avoid the bite from getting worse or causing an infection.
By visiting your doctor after the incident, he’ll also be able to make a report of the attack and keep track on your injury as you recover. This will be important information as you move to file a report or take legal action against the owner of the dog.
It will also help your case to have documentation of the attack right away. If you wait too long to go to the doctor, it would appear that your injury wasn’t as serious as you may now be claiming it is.
If it wasn’t necessary to call the police or an ambulance when the attack occurred, be sure to file a report once you’ve visited your doctor and have an idea of how bad the injury is.
If police were called during the attack or you were rushed to the hospital, a report should already have been filed by the authorities in charge at the scene. If this didn’t happen, you can file a report with your local authorities within the city you reside in.
This is usually as simple as contacting your local police or visiting the station nearest to where you live or where the attack took place and explaining to them you’d like to file a report of a dog attack.
You may not think this is necessary, especially if the injury is minor but it’s important to do. For starters, sometimes you don’t know the severity of an injury until later on as new symptoms can develop after a few days or even weeks.
Second, if you don’t file a report, a dangerous dog is still potentially on the streets as their owner likely won’t take the steps to fix the problem or ensure their dog isn’t around people anymore. It’s important to alert authorities so they can stop the dog from hurting anyone else.
You’ve started your documentation by visiting the doctor and reporting the incident. Keep it up by taking photos of any injuries sustained, ripped clothing or other damage to either yourself or your personal property.
Taking photos and keeping track of what really happened with visual evidence will streamline any legal proceedings and keep things from turning into your word against the dog owner’s, especially if there were no witnesses.
Contact a Lawyer
If you’re seriously hurt and want to receive financial compensation for your medical bills, missed work or pain and suffering, you may want to contact a personal injury lawyer. They can help determine your options and see if a legal proceeding is the best course of action.
With a lawyer, you have someone in your corner who can help you navigate this path safely and protect you during the process. They will understand your rights and what you’re owed better than anyone.
Keep a Log
Keeping a log is helpful regardless of whether or not you take legal action, but can be especially helpful to your lawyer once it does come time to settle the case or go to court.
Legal proceedings don’t move quickly. There’s a lot of back and forth and time spent waiting for the next move. During this time, it’s helpful to keep a timeline of everything that has occurred.
This could mean tracking doctors visits, physical therapy sessions, days taken off work, emails and phone calls from the dogs’ owner and more. Keep all of this information in one place; either on your computer or in a printed folder so you can access it quickly should either you or your attorney need information.
Having this log will be very helpful and can save you from having to jog a foggy memory of what happened throughout the course of the situation.
What to Do If a Dog Attacks You: Now You Know!
With the information provided above, you no longer have to wonder what to do if a dog attacks you.
These valuable steps can help guide you should you find yourself in this unpleasant situation. Keep in mind that you should always see a doctor, as your health is most important, and report the attack to authorities.
Check out the rest of our site today to find the right attorney for your case and don’t forget to check out our blog for more legal tips.