Emergency Situations: What to Do If You’ve Been Bitten by a Dog

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Emergency Situations

No one expects to go for a walk or to get their mail and then be bitten by a dog, but it happens all the time. It’s important for anyone who is bitten by a dog to know what they should do immediately after the bite occurs and to make sure they take the right steps for their health and to receive compensation for the medical bills. Those who are bitten by a dog should seek medical attention quickly and then speak with a lawyer about their situation. 

Know the Laws About Dog Bites

It’s important for anyone to know the laws concerning dogs and dog bites in their local area even if they don’t own a dog. Though it’s not likely someone will be bitten, it does happen and could happen to anyone. For most people, understanding dog bite laws allow them to ensure they are taking the right precautions if necessary to avoid dog bites and enables them to know what to do if a dog bites them. It can also help if they are bitten, as it allows them to understand what they can do to receive compensation for their injuries from the dog’s owner. 

Start Medical Treatment Immediately

If someone suffers minor injuries due to a dog bite, they will want to start their own medical treatment immediately. This is not an alternative to seeing a doctor, but it does allow them to stop the bleeding and start working on treatments to avoid further complications. It’s important for the person to apply direct pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding, wash the wound carefully, and then apply an antibiotic cream to the injury. They will need to continue to care for the injury appropriately to reduce the chance of an infection occurring later. Once this is done, they can talk to their doctor about the injury and start getting further medical treatment if needed. 

Seek Emergency Care

If the injuries are severe, the injured person will need to seek emergency medical treatment. This will allow them to get the treatment they need to stop the bleeding immediately and to work on recovering from the dog bites. Bites are severe if the person cannot stop the bleeding on their own, if the cuts are deep, or if they have a number of bites. Emergency services will be able to start helping them immediately and greatly decrease the possibility of further issues as a result of the dog bites, such as a major infection.

Get the Rabies Shots if Needed

Dogs can carry rabies, so they should be given a rabies vaccination per their veterinarian’s schedule. However, if the dog is not known to the person who was bitten, they should assume that the dog has not received the vaccination or that it is not up to date. There is no harm in getting the rabies shots if it turns out the dog does not have rabies. If the dog bite victim does not get the shot and the dog has rabies, there is a very high possibility the injured person will contract rabies themselves. There is no cure for rabies, so getting the shots is always a good idea.

File a Police Report About the Injury

After the bitten person has sought medical treatment for their injuries, it’s a good idea to file a police report about the incident. The person will want to be as detailed as possible about what happened, including how the dog was able to bite them if the dog’s owner was present, and whether the dog was on a leash when the incident occurred.

The police will need the details in the report to determine if any local laws were broken or if the dog’s owner could be charged with a violation because of the dog bite. Even if there were no laws broken, the police report does help the person who was bitten when they are filing a civil claim for compensation later. If insurance companies are involved, they may require a police report before paying out any compensation as a way to minimize the potential for fraud. 

Gather Evidence of What Happened

After the person has received treatment for their injuries and has filed a police report, they may want to see if they can gather any evidence of what happened. If they were in a residential neighborhood or in front of stores, they might want to see if any of the security cameras in the area caught the incident. They can request a copy of this for their lawyer.

If there were other people around, they might want to see if anyone is able to give a witness statement about what happened leading up to the dog bite. It’s also possible there is other evidence, like prior bites by the same dog, that can show the dog was not properly restrained to prevent biting even though the owner knew it was possible. 

Speak with a Lawyer About Compensation

It’s often a good idea for the injured person to speak with a lawyer about their case. If the dog’s owner was negligent, they could be required to pay compensation to the injured person. The amount of compensation depends on the severity of the injuries due to the dog bite. A lawyer can review the case to determine how much compensation the person might be able to obtain as well as help them through the remaining steps to work with the insurance company on a settlement or to take the case to court. The outcome depends on a lot of factors, so it’s a good idea to have a lawyer helping. 

If you have been bitten by a dog, seek medical treatment immediately to reduce the chance of the injuries becoming infected or contracting an illness like rabies. Once you have gotten the appropriate medical treatment, it may be a good idea to speak with a lawyer about the case to find out if you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries.