Being bitten by a dog can be a scary and traumatic experience. If you are bitten by a dog in public, it is important to know the proper steps to take right away. Taking quick action helps ensure your physical recovery and preserves your legal rights. This article will outline the key things you should do if you are bitten by a dog in a public place.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
The first priority after any dog bite is to seek medical care right away. Even small bite wounds can become seriously infected. Go to an emergency room, urgent care clinic, or call 9-1-1 for emergency responders depending on the severity of the bite.
Dog bites often require antibiotics, stitches, and even surgery. Medical staff can properly clean the wound, assess for nerve or tissue damage, test for rabies exposure, and determine if you need medications to prevent infection. Don’t delay – get medical attention as soon as possible after the bite.
Report the Incident
After receiving initial medical care, report the dog bite to the proper authorities. If the bite occurred in a public park, beach or street, notify local law enforcement or animal control. Provide details like where and when it happened, the dog’s description, and the owner’s name and contact info if known.
Filing an official report creates a record of the incident. It can help hold irresponsible owners accountable if the dog has a history of aggression. The report also ensures that animal control follows up to verify the dog’s rabies vaccination.
Exchange Contact and Insurance Information
Try to get the dog owner’s name, address, phone number and insurance information if available. Also provide your contact details and request theirs. Ask witnesses to also provide their names and numbers in case animal control needs additional statements.
If the owner refuses to provide information, try getting photos or videos showing the owner with the dog after the bite. The goal is identifying the owner since they are liable for your injuries and other damages.
Get Photographs of Your Injuries
Take clear photographs of all bite wounds – this includes bruises, scrapes, punctures, scratches, and any other marks left by the dog. Follow your doctor’s advice on safely photographing injuries after treatment. Also photograph blood-stained clothing or other damage.
Photos serve as vital evidence if you pursue legal action against the dog owner. They clearly document the type and extent of injuries you sustained. Store the photos safely and share with authorities once you obtain medical records.
Seek Out a Dog Bite Attorney
Consult with a qualified dog bite lawyer as soon as realistically possible after the bite. Your attorney handles the legal complexities and negotiations so you can focus on healing. They represent your interests in pursuing compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and permanent scarring.
An experienced dog bite attorney can get you maximum compensation in the shortest amount of time. Many provide free initial consultations and only collect fees if your claim succeeds. Don’t delay in finding appropriate legal representation after a dog bite.
Identify the Dog
Try to identify the breed, coloring, name, age, license number, microchip information, and any other details about the dog that bit you. Also find out if the dog is up-to-date on rabies shots. Report all of this to animal control when making your report.
If you can’t get the information directly from the owner, take photos or videos of the dog after the bite. The goal is creating a record of the dog’s description and ownership.
Preserve the Clothing You Were Wearing
Keep and preserve the clothing you were wearing when bitten. Place the items in plastic bags. Blood stains, rips, punctures, or other damage help document the circumstances of the attack. Your lawyer can use photographs of damaged clothing as evidence.
Having preserved clothing also gives the court something tangible to examine if your case goes to trial. Don’t throw away or wash the items until your claim fully resolves.
Start a Dog Bite Journal
Begin keeping a detailed journal of your physical and emotional recovery starting a few days after the bite. Document your pain levels, treatment visits, medications, limitations to normal activity, and all other aspects of your recovery process.
Also note your emotions like fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, and any other feelings resulting from the trauma of the dog attack. Your journal serves as evidence these impacts if you seek compensation for pain and suffering.
Gather Details About the Dog’s History
Find out if the dog that bit you has a history of aggression. Ask local authorities for records of complaints, menacing incidents, prior bites, or other violent behavior. Also research whether the breed has innate aggression tendencies.
Any past instances of violence increase the owner’s liability and your chances of winning your claim. A dog bite lawyer can fully investigate the canine’s background.
Request a Copy of Local Animal Laws
Each city, county, and state has its own laws pertaining to dog ownership, liability, and responses to bites. Request a copy of your local ordinances after the incident. This helps you understand what legal options are available in response to the attack.
For example, some laws may require the owner to surrender the dog or mandate it undergoes behavioral training. This knowledge equips you to pursue the most favorable outcome.
Don’t Delay Your Medical Treatment
It’s vital to re-emphasize the importance of promptly seeking medical care after any dog bite. Infections, rabies, and permanent damage can all result from delayed treatment. Your health and recovery come first – get seen by a doctor right away regardless of circumstances.
Don’t let apprehension about costs deter you from emergency care. Your health insurance and legal claim should cover medical expenses when supported by documentation.
The greatest priorities after a dog bite are your physical well-being, preventing infection, creating a record of the incident, identifying the owner, documenting your injuries, and contacting an attorney. Caution is required around dogs that recently attacked since they may remain aggressive. But with the proper response, you can recover both physically and legally after being bitten by a dog in public.
What to Do If a Dog Bites You in Public: Key Steps
Seek medical care immediately
Report bite to animal control or law enforcement
Exchange contact/insurance information with the owner
Photograph bite wounds and other injuries
Contact an experienced dog bite attorney
Identify the dog’s description and history
Preserve damaged clothing items
Start a recovery journal detailing injuries
Request local animal laws and regulations
Follow all medical advice to prevent infection
Consult your attorney before providing any statements
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