Dog bite incidents have surged during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as stressed-out dog owners often translate into equally stressed four-legged companions. But since more than a dozen U.S. states give dogs and their owners a first-bite free pass, it is critical for dog bite victims to take some necessary steps immediately after being bitten by a dog.
What to Do After Being Bitten by a Dog: 5 Immediate Steps
Here’s what you should do after one such incident. The last two steps are purely optional but highly recommended as most insurance companies tend to stack the cards against victims.
Step # 1: Administer First Aid
The first thing after being bitten by a dog is to get away from the dog and get first aid. If the injuries are serious, call a paramedic immediately. Ask their owner if the dog has been vaccinated against rabies. Also, cleanse the wound with warm water and soap as this simple act alone can dramatically lower the risk of rabies.
If there’s bleeding, cover the wound with a sterile bandage soaked in antibacterial solution and press down until the bleeding stops. If after a few days the wound gets tender to the touch or if the bite area has swollen, contact a medic immediately.
You may want to talk to a health professional if you haven’t been immunized against tetanus to get the proper treatment as well.
Step # 2: Gather Contact Information
Shortly after a dog bite, gather all the contact information you can get. Get info on the owner and witnesses primarily. Proceed to this step as if you were involved in a car crash. You will need all the info you can get for the insurance company, authorities, and a potential lawsuit.
Keep in touch with the dog owner and with the witnesses by getting names, addresses, and telephone numbers. You could also ask for the veterinarian’s contact information to check the dog’s vaccination history.
Investigate if the dog is at its first attack as 14 U.S. states will give the dog a free pass and not hold the owner liable if it is the pooch’s first transgression. If the owner is not around, ask witnesses if they know where you can find the owner.
Step # 3: Report the Incident to Animal Control
Contact animal control and report the dog bite. Somebody else might have been bitten by the same dog and reported the incident as well. If you live in a “one free bite” state, this step is critical if you want to hold the owner liable and get compensation for your damages. In many states, you must report the bite if your injuries required medical attention. In a handful of states, the medic that treats your wounds must file a dog bite report under the law.
Step # 4: Collect Evidence
This is an immediate step as well since wounds heal and memories grow fainter. Photograph your injuries as soon as you can, even if that means to take off the bandages. Also, photograph any property that was damaged in the attack such as a damaged mobile phone, torn shorts or pants, a scratched car, and so on. Take photographs of the location of the dog bite as well.
Write down every detail of the attack in a personal journal immediately after the attack. If the dog bite resulted in many days of hospitalization, pain, and suffering, document what you have been through on a daily basis. All this info is critical if you file an insurance claim or a lawsuit. Medical records, official reports, and eyewitnesses will help you make a strong case as well. Also, keep track of all the expenses related to your dog bite injuries such as medical bills, transportation, and lost income.
Step #5: Contact a Dog Bite Attorney
If you want proper compensation for your injuries or a fair settlement with the dog owner’s insurance carrier, contact a dog bite attorney immediately. Only a professional knows how to best settle a dog bite injury claim and how to navigate each state’s often complex dog bite laws. In one bite states, such as Nevada, Vermont, and Texas, dog bite cases can be so challenging that even seasoned attorneys have a hard time getting to the bottom of things. Consider hiring a dog bite attorney even before talking to an insurance adjuster.
After a dog attack, don’t let things slide. If the dog bite has led to major property damage or severe injuries that need costly medical treatments, you’ll need to take all the extra steps necessary to get properly compensated. What’s more, consider hiring a dog bite attorney as dog bite laws differ wildly across states.