Ignoring one can impact your settlement.
Many of us have had that one neighborhood dog. It’s constantly barking, growling, and chasing cars, postmen and joggers up and down the street. Fortunately for most of us, these dogs are chained up, behind a tall fence, in their house, or wearing an invisible fence collar. However, there are 3 powerful numbers to consider if you think it’s rare for you or a loved one to be attacked by a dog.
- there are 5 million recorded dog bites every year [a]. For contrast, there are 6 million car accidents every year, a small difference when you consider how often you see car accidents.
- 1 out of 5 dog bites becomes infected [b]
- the average cost of a dog-bite hospital visit is $18,500; 50% higher than the average injury-related hospital stay [c]
To better prepare you in case you are attacked by someone else’s dog, and to give you the peace of mind that you deserve, here are 7 steps you should immediately follow after suffering a dog bite [be sure to print the PDF at the bottom of this page]:
- Immediately Check for Injuries. Dog bites can be a race against the clock, especially if you suspect that the dog is rabid. You’ll want to observe these 3 things:
- How much blood are you losing?
- How deep of a wound is it?
- How much pain are you experiencing?
- Call 911. When the dispatcher picks up the phone, be sure to tell them that you were bitten by a strange dog, and share the answers to the above questions to assist them with determining recommended self-treatment of the wound prior to the arrival of the police officer and ambulance. Self-treatment may include but is not limited to applying pressure to the wound with a clean towel to slow bleeding, and applying antibiotic solutions to limit infections. If you don’t have a first aid kit, the police officer arriving on the scene is your best bet. We recommend having a first aid kit in your car at all times.
- Call or Text a family member or friend that lives close by. If the 911 dispatcher keeps you on the phone, you’re going to want to text someone you trust and invite them to the scene to assist you with gathering evidence. Be sure you warn them about the presence of the dog, especially if it’s a stray. Similar to a car accident, it’s critical to record every possible detail before, during and after the dog attack, and the assistance of someone you trust can make all of the difference.
- Gather Information. This is very important. Unlike car accidents, the guilty party [the dog] will probably flee the scene, returning to its property or somewhere else—which is usually the case in strays, runaways or rabid dogs.
- What’s the closest house number to the scene of the attack?
- If it ran away from you, in what direction did it go?
- What does the dog look like—color, size, breed, and sex?
- Did the dog have a collar and what color was it?
- Where did the dog come from?
- Did it come from a property?
- Was there a fence or chain?
- Did it come from inside a house? If so, which one?
In addition to information on the dog, you’ll want to speak with witnesses in the surrounding area… but be cautious, you do not want to get into a conversation with the dog’s owner without the presence of a police officer. Similar to speaking with an opposite party in a car accident, saying the wrong thing can negatively impact your chance at a settlement. Even if the dog’s owner is nice and apologetic, wait for the police to show up and never admit fault. Lastly, take as many photos as possible.
Furthermore, after you have followed the 4 steps you should take after being bitten by a strange dog, I would recommend that you call a personal injury attorney for a free consultation only after you read my other blog post that you can find here: 10 Things to Remember Before You Call a Personal Injury Attorney