Topic: Dog Bites
Do you know the most important steps you must take after a dog bite? Below, our experienced attorneys share the top three things all dog bite victims need to do immediately after an animal attack.
Step 1: Call 911.
An attack by an aggressive animal is an emergency, plain and simple. That’s why it’s essential that the first step you take after a dog bite is to call 911. You need the police to document the dog bite with an incident report. If you’re like most dog bite victims, you most likely need an ambulance, too.
For more information about documenting the attack, check out Should I Call the Police after a Dog Bite? and our other FAQ resources.
Step 2: Gather the facts.
Going forward, you’ll need to know who owned the dog and whether the animal was up-to-date on its shots. While you’re waiting for the authorities to arrive, gather this information. If you’re not able to write down the information yourself due to your injuries, ask someone at the scene to help you.
You need the dog’s owner’s name and address. Find out if he or she has homeowner’s insurance and, if so, what company provides the coverage. If the dog’s owner is a renter, get as much information about the landlord as possible.
Find out the dog’s name, age, and the name and contact information for its veterinarian. Ask the dog’s owner for proof of its vaccinations, but be aware that you may end up having to call the vet to verify that the dog has been vaccinated for rabies.
Why does this information matter?
For one thing, the dog will need to be examined, and likely quarantined, to find out if it may have put you at risk for rabies or any other diseases. This will determine the course of your dog bite treatment. Any indication that the animal could have rabies will require you to undergo a series of shots to prevent you from developing the deadly illness.
For another, you might find that you need to pursue a personal injury claim against the owner of the dog who bit you. The medical bills can grow larger than you expect, especially if you end up needing scar revision surgery to deal with the disfiguring consequences of the dog bite. Your injuries can keep you out of work. Sometimes, the damage to your body is permanent. Getting the dog’s owner’s personal and insurance information now ensures that you can pursue a case in the future, if you need to.
Step 3: Go to the emergency room.
Even a minor dog bite is dangerous. The wounds can get infected easily unless you take precautions, like getting a tetanus shot and starting a course of antibiotics.
Besides the very real risk of infection, the cuts you sustain in a dog bite can be deep. You need these wounds to be washed thoroughly with cleansers that are capable of killing the rabies virus. You need them closed carefully, with stitches or sutures if necessary, to prevent further bleeding.
If the bite has caused you severe pain, weakness, numbness, or loss of function, you need an examination to determine if you suffered nerve damage or other serious injuries.
Taking these steps will help you start working toward recovery faster and make sure that you’re prepared for dealing with the aftermath of the dog bite.