Every year in the US, approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs. Sadly, it’s very common.
These range from random bites from stray dogs to getting bitten by family members’ or friends’ dogs. They also range from mild to severe bites. A puppy nipping you is very different from an adult dog locking on.
Although it can be shocking and even traumatic to be bitten by a dog, it’s important to stay calm in the aftermath and remember what to do — both immediately after the bite and once it’s been taken care of.
Follow these steps if you’re ever bitten by a dog.
1. Deal With the Dog Bite Injury Itself
The first thing you’ll want to do is deal with the dog bite itself.
If it’s a minor injury, this might require simply pressing something against it to stop the bleeding and gently washing the wound. To wash a dog bite, you should use warm water and then apply an antibiotic cream if you have one close by.
This may not be possible if you’re not at home. If that’s the case, press the cleanest thing you have against it to stop the bleeding until you can get to a place to wash it.
Once you’ve done this, wrap a sterile bandage around the area. You’ll then have to change this every few days.
If it’s a major injury or bleeding persists, seek medical attention right away. If the dog is unknown and you don’t have vaccine records for them, you’ll have to get a rabies shot.
About 10-15% of dog bites end up infected. If you have an infected dog bite, you’ll notice this because there may be redness, swelling, or pus.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll contract rabies, but it could pose some complications. You should go to a doctor to get antibiotics for this.
If there are any other complications, you should also seek medical attention. This might include an injury that just won’t heal, or persistent bleeding after the initial incident.
2. Deal With the Owner
If the dog is a stray dog and doesn’t have an owner, you should make a report to animal control. They’ll be able to look for the dog and it also helps them keep tabs on statistics surrounding dog bites in the area, which can be important and helpful to the community.
Even if the dog does have an owner, it can help to make a report.
If the dog has an owner and you know them, ask for vaccination records immediately. That way, you can have peace of mind knowing the dog has been vaccinated for rabies. If the owner is a close personal friend or family member and the bite was minor, you can often sort out things amongst yourselves.
If the owner is a stranger but is there when the dog bites you, you should get as much information as possible from them. At a minimum, their name and phone number are a must.
If there are witnesses to the incident, ask for their information too. It can be important to gather evidence when it comes to dealing with insurance companies.
Remember — insurance will always try to pay out as little as possible, so having irrefutable evidence of how serious it was can really help.
3. Get Legal Help
Dealing with insurance on your own can be hard. Not just because they will try and pay as little as possible, but because other complications can arise.
Perhaps there were no witnesses and the dog’s owner has a different story. Perhaps the insurance company is being obtuse, as some representatives can be!
The best thing you can do is file a claim through a lawyer and have them deal with the insurance company. Lawyers are good at what they do and will take all of the evidence you’ve gathered and make sure you get what you deserve.
Do not discuss who is responsible with the owner or the insurance company, and do not talk finances with them. Let your legal help handle it, as you may not get what you’re owed otherwise.
This is especially true if the bite is so severe that you have to take time off work or have medical bills to pay.
This is also where the photographs and witness information come in handy, as your lawyer will be able to use these to build a case against the owner.
It’s important not to feel guilty about doing this. Some people are worried the dog will be euthanized and they’ll be causing the owner some pain but in truth, this is rarely the case. More than likely, the dog will have to be trained and kept under control more.
You may also be preventing the same thing from happening to someone else if the owner doesn’t get the dog under control.
Make Sure to Follow These Steps
Make sure to follow these steps if you have an unfortunate dog bite injury. They can truly make a world of difference to a few different things.
Not only will that initial medical attention help the bite heal faster without complications, but the quick-thinking when it comes to taking down owner and witness information will help you get the compensation you deserve for such a traumatic event.
If you need to file a personal injury claim because of a dog bite injury or something else, schedule a free consultation with us today. We have a great track record and are ready to help you get what you deserve.