Immediate Steps to Take After a Dog Bite
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, the first concern you should have is getting yourself to safety. Get away from the animal and make sure it cannot bite you again. Once safe, determine how severe the bite is. Do you need medical attention? If you are unsure, err on the side of caution and seek medical help. If the bite is not severe, be sure to keep it clean and dry and watch for infection.
Once the bite has been taken care of, you need to try to locate the dog’s owner. If you know the dog’s owner or are able to find them immediately, get the dog’s veterinary information from them so you can verify the dog is healthy and has had all shots. Exchange contact information with the owner. If your bite is severe enough that you think you might want to consider a lawsuit, be careful not to agree to any financial arrangements or say anything that might be interpreted as accepting responsibility for the incident. Wait until you have consulted with a medical professional about your bite before making any agreements for compensation with the dog’s owner.
If the dog was a stray, do not try to capture or contain the dog and report the incident to the proper authorities such as an animal control agency or the police department. Even if you do know the dog’s owner, it’s still important to report the incident. This may not be the first time the animal has bitten and even if it is the first time a dog has been known to bite, your report would help establish a pattern of behavior. If you seek medical attention, do not assume the hospital staff will report the incident. Even if they do report the incident, they might not report the same type of information as you would.
Record all the details as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more details you may forget. If you reported the bite to another agency, get copies of their report. Be sure to keep all medical records and photograph the wound as soon as possible. Photograph the location where the bite occurred. Was there a fence? If so, was it a strong, sturdy fence or did it have holes or large gaps in it or a latch on a gate that isn’t secure? Was there a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign? Photograph these sorts of things, or the lack of them. Be sure to note if the dog on a leash or roaming around free.
Depending on the severity of the bite, you might want to consider consulting an attorney. You may be facing large medical bills, loss of work, painful treatments, and long-lasting effects. An attorney can help you determine if you are entitled to compensation for these events. They will know the best way to proceed.