A dog bite can be a terrifying experience if someone else’s dog attacked you. Even if your own pet bit you, there are things you need to do to protect your health, comply with the law, and preserve a possible claim for damages.
Here are five things you should do if you were bitten by a dog:
Get Prompt Medical Attention
In addition to cleaning the wound and repairing visible damage, there are four reasons why dog bites need professional medical attention right away:
Dog bites transmit more than 95 percent of all rabies cases in humans worldwide. They can pass on rabies or other canine diseases through their saliva or blood. You can also develop tetanus (lockjaw) from a dog bite. The emergency room or urgent care center personnel may ask you how long it has been since your last tetanus shot.
If you cannot remember when you had a tetanus shot, they may administer one. If it has been more than ten years (or five years for a deep or dirty dog bite), they may give you a booster shot.
Because they are puncture wounds, you cannot see all of the tissue damage from a dog bite. Well below the surface, you could have nerve damage or injuries to muscles or other tissues. You could have permanent impairment of the affected body part if these wounds go untreated.
Many dog bite victims get bitten on their hands. Hand bites have a high rate of infection because there are so many small bones, joints, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels near the surface. The dog’s teeth compress tissue and push a multitude of bacteria and other organisms from its saliva deep inside your hand when you suffer one of these puncture wounds.
As a result, the infection can develop where you cannot see it – well under the surface of your hand. Deep-seated infections can spread rapidly throughout your body and cause life-threatening systemic diseases like sepsis or meningitis.
Documentation of Your Claim
Your medical records can be vital evidence in your personal injury claim. These records can show the date of the injury and verify that, according to a medical professional, you suffered a dog bite.
Find Out if the Dog Was Current on Rabies and Other Shots
Time is of the essence after a dog bite to know if you are at risk for rabies. Verify with the dog’s veterinarian that the animal was up-to-date on its rabies and other shots. Do not accept the word of the dog owner, as they might panic and lie out of fear of legal action or that the authorities will take their pet away.
If you cannot unequivocally verify the dog’s immunization history, you might have to undergo rabies injections.
Report the Dog Bite to the Authorities
Report the dog bite immediately to the proper authorities, even if your own pet bit you. Many areas require the reporting of all animal bites. Some will quarantine the animal, regardless of its immunization history. If a stray dog bit you, reporting the incident will notify the authorities that they need to capture the animal before it bites someone else.
Get a Personal Injury Lawyer Early in the Process
A personal injury lawyer can protect you from the insurance company giving you a low-ball offer to get rid of the case before you know the full extent of your medical condition. If you take a settlement and later have more medical bills or permanent impairment, you cannot go back to get more money. Make sure you have achieved complete healing before you agree to any settlement of your claim.
Do not give a recorded or written statement to the insurance company without having your lawyer involved. Do not sign any papers for the insurance company or the dog owner without having your lawyer review them first. In all of that legal mumbo-jumbo, you might be signing away your right to compensation for your injuries.
Preserve the Evidence
Your lawyer will investigate the case and collect evidence to build your claim for compensation. These items will be useful for your lawyer in proving what happened, who should be liable, and how much you should receive for your damages:
Save receipts for medical treatment, prescription medications, physical therapy, and other relevant items.
Keep a Journal
In a journal, you can write down the pain and other symptoms you experienced from the injury. Details of doctor appointments, medical treatments, and witnesses can provide critical information about your claim. Ask your lawyer what you should and should not write in this journal.
Take photographs of the injury from several angles and on different days throughout the healing process after being bitten by a dog. Keep track of which photos you took on which days.
Call the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, PC today at 404-474-0804, to get your free, no-obligation consultation.