5 Things to Do After a Dog Bite | Serra & Isopi P.C.

Bit by a Dog? 5 Things You Must Do to Protect Yourself Legally

Each year, more than 4 million people are bitten by a dog. Of those, 750,000 are serious enough to require medical care, making dog bites one of the most common reasons people visit emergency rooms—dog bites come in fifth overall.

Although getting bitten by a dog is an emotional and traumatic event, it is also a legal one. The owners of the dog who bit you are responsible for its action and all or part of your medical care. To protect yourself legally after a dog attack, you must not lose sight of this fact. Following are five things you should do after getting bit by a dog.

Take Pictures

Ask someone to take pictures of everything, including your injuries, the location, the offending dog—if still on the premises—and any damaged property. If the dog was not on a leash or if the leash broke, take a picture of that as well. Think like an investigator. If something tells the story of what happened, capture it in a picture.

To make sure your photos are admissible as evidence in court, save them to a hard drive in their original file format. If you need to enhance or enlarge a picture for clarity, save it under a new file name but retain the original photo. You will need both in court.
Gather Evidence
Gather all the evidence you can, including the dog owner's contact information, description of dog, the dog's medical records, eyewitness statements and contact information for any witnesses.

If there are rules that apply to the location where you were bit, such as a dog park or common property, you should gather a written copy of the rules. In some cases, you may prove your case simply by showing that the owner of the dog broke the rules of the establishment or property.
Seek Medical Treatment

If you are injured, seek medical treatment. If you're severely injured, call 911 right away; ask a friend or family member to gather the necessary information for you at the scene. Provide medical staff with all known information about the dog and the circumstances in which you were bit. It may help them decide upon a proper treatment course.

At the end of your visit, ask for a detailed printout of all services received as well as the doctor's findings. Once the medical bills start rolling in, you will want to hold onto them as well because they will prove all or part of your monetary damages.

Report Incident
You must report all dog bites to your local animal control agency or dog warden. The dog warden, along with the local prosecutor, can provide you with any relevant information regarding the dog's history, e.g. if it has bitten someone before. If the dog is a repeat offender, there may be consequences.

Even if you're the first person the dog has bitten, the dog warden may require special training or precautions for the future handling of the dog. A detailed report from animal control will also be helpful if you have to go to court.

Call an Attorney
Last, but not least, call an attorney who's well versed in dog bite cases. If the case goes to court, you will need an attorney to represent you. Dog bite cases are unique in that you can seek both monetary damages and punitive damages, often referred to as pain and suffering. A competent attorney will make sure you receive the amount you deserve.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, gather all the evidence you can and seek medical attention. Report the incident to your local animal control agency. Last, but not least, contact Serra & Isopi, P.C. for a free phone consultation.