More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year. If you’ve recently been the victim of a dog attack, you’re not alone.
Although dog bites are a common occurrence, they can carry potentially devastating consequences if left untreated. That’s why it’s especially important to seek the right medical care and possible legal ramifications in order to prevent future incidents from occurring. This may seem overwhelming at first but it doesn’t have to be.
Read on for our 7 crucial steps to take following a dog attack.
1. Seek Medical Attention
If you’re the victim of a dog attack, be sure to take care of your health first and foremost. Dog bites can transmit a number of diseases and can also cause serious infections in some cases. That’s why it’s especially important to see a medical professional as soon as possible.
The most common and dangerous disease you can get from a dog attack is rabies, an infection of the central nervous system. If the dog who bit you isn’t up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations, your doctor will administer an emergency shot. If left untreated, rabies is deadly to humans and animals alike.
Dog bites can also cause major muscle lacerations and nerve damage that could be permanent. By seeking immediate medical care after a dog attack, you can be sure you’re doing all you can do combat these potentially life-altering consequences.
2. Decide if You Want to Do Anything
Once you’ve been evaluated by a medical professional, you have to decide what your next move will be. This can be an awkward and difficult decision, especially if the dog’s owner is a friend, neighbor, or other personal acquaintance.
It’s important to prioritize yourself in these circumstances; in other words, you are the victim here. You shouldn’t feel guilty about seeking damages from the dog’s owner. In turn, they should also be sympathetic to your case and cooperative with your needs following a dog attack.
As with most lawsuits following an attack, the choice is yours whether you will pursue a settlement from the offending party. You decide what the aftercare is and who will be responsible for paying it.
You also have the right to do nothing about a dog attack, which may seem like a favorable option for you if you didn’t sustain any permanent damage from the bite. If this is an abnormal occurrence from the dog or dog owner in question, you could choose to leave it alone. In any case, be sure to keep your distance from the dog in the future.
3. Document What Happened
If you are going to further action following a dog attack, it’s important to create a record of the incident as soon as possible. That way, you’ll have thorough, accurate documentation of what happened for any future legal proceedings. You can do this by writing it down, typing it up, or even creating an audio recording.
Think about what happened before, during, and after the dog attack. Some helpful things to consider are whether the dog was improperly contained (purposefully or by accident), how long the attack lasted, what the owner did to intervene, and anything that could have instigated the animal. Be sure you’re recording as many details as possible in order to have an accurate account.
4. Consider Possible Negligence
When considering the owner’s liability following a dog attack, negligence a key thing to keep in mind. In other words, was this an isolated incident or the result of extended carelessness?
First of all, what is the dog’s history? Has it always been showing signs of aggression? Has it bitten anyone before?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then the owner was possibly negligent of their duties to keep the dog contained. An aggressive dog should not be allowed to roam free where it can attack people. If it’s bitten anyone before, then it should not be in public without a muzzle to prevent this from happening again.
Another thing to consider is the owner’s history, if you know it. Think about whether they are prone to irresponsibly raising animals or if this was just a momentary lapse in judgment. These are all important details to include in your record as you move towards possible legal action.
5. Maintain Open Communication
Dealing with the aftermath of a dog attack can be a painful process, especially if major injuries are involved. That’s why it’s important to maintain an open and civil dialogue with the dog’s owner if at all possible.
When discussing the case, try your best to stay calm and rational. If the owner is a friend or a neighbor, you may still be seeing them on a regular basis, so you don’t want any bad blood between the two of you. What’s more, you could get yourself into trouble if you lose your temper.
6. Research Dog Attack Liability Laws in Your State
Depending on what state you live in, there are different laws to determine the owner’s responsibility. In general, the owner is almost always responsible for a dog attack if no provocation was involved. There are also negligence laws that hold the owner at fault if the dog has bitten before, or if it had previously shown signs of aggressive behavior.
However, if you did something to provoke a dog attack, the law might not hold the owner responsible at all. Instead, you will be the one who pays for all your personal damages. It’s important to keep these things in mind when you’re gearing up to pursue legal action.
7. Hire a Good Attorney Following a Dog Attack
If you’re pursuing legal action following a dog attack, Hammack Law Firm recommends seeking an attorney with the extensive experience and know-how it takes to win your case. That way, you’ll be positioning yourself for the best possible legal outcome.
If you’re the victim of a dog attack, dealing with the aftermath can be difficult, if not impossible, to do alone. However, with the right aftercare and legal assistance, you can help secure the best possible recovery.
Talk to an attorney today to learn more about your options following a dog attack.