Have you (or someone you know) been bitten by a dog?
Have you or someone you know been bitten by a dog? Statistics show that more than four million dog bites are reported each year in the U.S., and nearly 20% of them are serious enough to require medical attention. Medical treatment can range all the way from a few stitches and an antibiotic to broken bones, torn muscles, and even plastic surgery. Sometimes there is permanent physical damage. And of course there can also be emotional and psychological damage.
What should I do?
Many people are extremely hesitant even to approach the dog owner about their injuries. Most of the time the dog owner is someone we know, a close neighbor, or maybe your child’s friend’s parents. It’s natural to feel that hesitancy, but you do need to get some basic information about the dog. If you have called the police, paramedics, or Animal Control, they will get that information for you.
Reporting the bite
There are several reasons reporting is a good idea:
- You need the dog’s vaccination history
- The dog may need to be quarantined
- There will be an official report of the incident
- Any relevant evidence will be collected and preserved
- The dog’s bite history can be requested
Many people hesitate to report a dog bite. After all, the dog may be your own, or a close friend or neighbor’s. Of course, if your own dog has bitten someone in your immediate family, you don’t need to call Animal Control or anyone, unless you think the dog might be sick, acting aggressively or out of control. If the dog has bitten a family member and you have no concerns about rabies, then your best move is probably just to take your child to the doctor, have the wound or injury treated, and then just keep a very close eye on your dog for further behavior problems.
However, if someone else’s dog has bitten you or your child, there are very different concerns! In this case, assuming the injury is more serious (if the skin has been broken), then you most definitely SHOULD make an official report of the bite, for all of the reasons listed above. Even if the dog owner is your friend or neighbor, maybe especially if the dog owner is your friend or neighbor. If Animal Control gets involved, you don’t have to feel responsible for any consequences there might be for your neighbor or her dog. Once the call is made, then they can take over any decision-making for you.
What happens next?
Once you call and report the bite, medical attention will be the first consideration for the person who was bitten, and things progress much as you would imagine. The Animal Control Officer will determine if the dog’s vaccination history or behavior is cause for concern, and take appropriate action. That information will be documented, and available to you in the incident report.
It’s a good idea, whether there is an investigation or not, to take photos of the injuries yourself, just to be sure. Take photos right after the bite (just snap a quick picture with your phone), then take photos after medical treatment. Take another set of photos every few days, to document the healing process and/or any complications.
As soon as you are able, take a few minutes to write a statement about exactly what happened. Include where the bite happened, what was happening right before the bite, including what the victim was doing, and what the dog was doing. Did it happen on a sidewalk, roadway, your yard, the dog’s yard, inside or outside of a house or a fenced area? All of this will be important information for your attorney.
Why do I want an attorney?
There are several reasons it might be wise to consult with an attorney:
- An experienced attorney, who understands the trauma that follows a serious dog bite, can take away many of your concerns
- An expert attorney from The Advocates can handle everything in a professional manner, and even help to preserve the friendship you might have with the neighbor who owns the dog
- The Advocates will get you a full and fair compensation that will not only cover all the medical expenses, but also make up for the emotional trauma, the length of the healing process, any time lost from work, and any future concerns, counselling for your child if needed, and any other possible problems that are related to the bite
But I don’t want to “sue” my neighbor!
Of course you don’t. But what you will come to understand is that you won’t be suing your friend or your neighbor. Your attorney will handle the claim with the homeowner’s insurance of the dog owner. Your settlement won’t be coming out of your neighbor’s pocket, taking food from his children’s mouths. Your settlement will be negotiated with the insurance adjuster. Most cases, over 90%, are settled in negotiations with the insurance company. Only if the insurance company refused to agree to a reasonable settlement is a lawsuit actually filed, and even then the lawsuit isn’t against your neighbor, it’s against the insurance company.
Please call us at The Advocates, and let us answer your questions. The consultation is free, and we don’t get paid anything at all unless we get money for you. There is literally nothing to lose! Call us – we’ll give you an honest assessment of your case, and you’ll feel better after talking with us, we promise!