When you or a loved one is bitten by a dog, your first instinct may be to panic and run away, but if possible, you need to stay calm, get medical help, and find out who owns that dog. Besides these essentials, there are several things you should not do. Here’s a list of things not to do after a dog attack.
1. Don’t Hesitate to Talk to Witnesses
Get the name and number of anyone in the area who saw the attack. Remember that memories can fade quickly and ask if they’ll let you or your attorney record them making a statement about what they saw. Ultimately, if you need to bring forward a legal claim against the dog owner, their comments can be invaluable.
2. Don’t Overlook Finding the Dog Owner
It is of utmost importance to identify the dog and the dog owner. If the dog is a stray, you face the possibility of having to endure rabies treatment, a painful and expensive process. Note, however, that these shots are not always required, as rabies may not be in your area. Don’t be surprised if your doctor tells you that you don’t need the shots after all.
In addition, if you are attacked by someone’s pet, you may be entitled to compensation that you can use to pay medical bills, cover time off work, pay for cosmetic surgery if needed, and help you deal pain and suffering from your injuries.
3. Don’t Forget the Photographs
A picture is worth a thousand words, so be sure to get photographs of the wounds before being treated and during healing. However, don’t let the dog’s owner or anyone who may side with the dog take your photographs. They may capture your wounds in a way that is misleading.
4. Don’t Discuss Money or Settlements with the Dog Owner
In some cases, the dog’s owner may apologize and offer you a private settlement for your injuries. Do not accept that settlement. It is impossible to calculate what the attack is going to cost until you seek medical treatment, and even then, some injuries may take a while to show up completely. Keep in mind that even an offer that sounds high may not be enough.
5. Don’t Skip Medical Treatment
Be sure to get treatment — dog bites can cause serious infections with significant consequences. In fact, if you receive a bite to the face, insist on treatment at the hospital by a plastic surgeon. Emergency room doctors are wonderful at saving lives, but perhaps not as competent at making stitches or wounds look the best.
Also, start a journal as soon as possible. Spend a bit of time each day recording your thoughts, feelings, and pain levels for the first few weeks after the attack. If you have to make a claim for compensation, know that the claim could take several years to complete, so consider keeping this journal as you wait.
6. Don’t Fail to Make an Official Report
While the hospital may make a report regarding your attack, do not rely on them to do so. You should always make your own report to animal control. That agency has investigators who will interview witnesses and take care of other things that may help your case, as well as prevent the offending dog from biting others in the future.
Filing a dog bite report also provides a paper trail that may help the next victim. Without these records, authorities cannot enforce laws effectively.
7. Don’t Avoid Contacting a Lawyer
There are laws to protect your rights and the rights of children from dog attacks, both on and off your property. Also, dog owners must be held responsible when their dogs attack.
Now that we’ve covered what you shouldn’t do, here is a quick list of what you do need to do:
- Get the name, address and phone number of witnesses.
- Get information for the dog’s owner or whoever had control or custody of the animal when it attacked you.
- Take photographs of the wounds.
- See a doctor to further document your dog bite and to obtain treatment.
- Go to the animal control agency in your area and make a report, then fully cooperate with the investigating officers.
Then, contact us. At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we are experienced dog bite attorneys who have helped countless clients get the justice they deserve. We will start with a free case consultation and help you decide the best way forward.