Although dogs are considered to be man’s best friend, these canine companions are still prone to attack or bite a friend or foe. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States annually, and 900,000 of those bites become infected. This means that a dog bites one out of every 72 people, which is a frightening statistic.
Knowing what to do after a dog bite can be crucial to your physical and emotional health and well-being. Additionally, dog bite injuries can have significant legal and financial ramifications.
If a dog bites you, take these six steps immediately:
- Seek medical care – If you experience a puncture wound or more serious injuries, it is imperative to seek immediate medical attention. Some dogs are not vaccinated against rabies, and puncture wounds are prone to infection.
- Exchange information – Similar to the aftermath of a car accident, you must exchange contact information with the dog’s owner or caretaker. Take down the person’s name, address, phone number, and e-mail. If anyone witnessed the incident, be sure to get their contact information as well. Eyewitness accounts can provide a more accurate picture of what happened, especially if you plan to file a lawsuit or an insurance claim.
- Contact animal control – To help prevent future dog bites, file a report with your local animal control agency. Their investigation into the incident may be beneficial to your case.
- Document the injury – If possible, take photos of your wounds before they are treated to document the harm done. Additionally, document the recovery process of your injuries in order to demonstrate the full extent of the damage caused by the dog bite. Documentation can also be in the form of medical records and journal entries. As soon as possible, write down the events and circumstances surrounding the bite with as much detail as you can recall.
- Retain legal representation – Hire a personal injury lawyer with extensive experience in handling dog bite insurance claims, settlements, and lawsuits. An attorney can evaluate your case and determine an accurate amount of compensation you deserve.