Many people own dogs, love dogs, and consider them to be part of their families. In fact, dogs are the most popular type of pet in the United States, and the American Veterinary Medical Association reports that 38.4 percent of American households own at least one dog. Given the close relationships people have with their dogs, it can be shocking when they are bitten. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an estimated 4.7 million people are injured by dog bites in the United States each year. Scroll down to learn what to do if you are bitten by a dog.
What to Do If You Are Bitten by a Dog
Whether you’re bitten by your own dog or someone else’s pet, you will need to take several steps to protect your health and your rights:
Identify the dog’s owner.
If you are bitten by someone else’s dog, you will first need to find out who owns the dog (if you don’t already know). Under Mass. Gen. Laws § 155, the owner or keeper of a dog is civilly liable when a dog injures another person or damages property. While some states require that owners have prior knowledge of their dogs’ propensity to attack, Massachusetts dog owners or keepers are strictly liable when their dogs attack others. Additionally, a dog’s owner or keeper is liable for a dog bite even if the dog has never attacked anyone before.
Make sure to get the name of the person who has custody of the dog and his or her contact information. If the person who has custody of the dog is not the owner, ask for the owner’s information so that you can get proof of the dog’s rabies vaccination. If the dog is running loose, ask bystanders if they know who owns the dog.
Seek medical help.
If your bite is severe, call 911 to get immediate medical attention and to file a police report. You should also clean your wound with soap and water and apply a topical antibiotic if it is available. Wrap your wound with a gauze bandage, and make sure to go to the doctor to have your wound treated. Dog bites carry a high risk of infection, so getting prompt medical treatment is critical.
Report the dog bite.
Make sure that you report your dog bite. If you did not call 911 from the accident scene, make sure to file a dog bite report with the proper authorities after you get medical treatment. Filing a report documents what happened and might help any subsequent victims who are bitten by the same dog.
Gather information about the dog.
Try to get as much information about the dog as possible. Ask for the dog’s license info and records about its previous history. This can help you to figure out if the dog has bitten someone in the past or has been deemed a dangerous dog by authorities.
You should take multiple pictures of your injuries. Make sure to take pictures of all of your wounds and your clothing, including bruises, puncture marks, torn clothing, and the location of where the dog bite occurred.
Keep a journal.
Keeping a journal of your symptoms and recovery following a dog bite can help to show the extent of your injuries and how they impact your ability to function in your daily life. Write down how the bite and any related injuries affect you each day and keep track of your pain and the treatment that you undergo, including dates.
Contact an attorney.
After you seek medical treatment, you should contact an attorney at Ellis & Associates as soon as possible if you live in the Worcester area. Dog bite claims can involve complex legal issues, so contacting a lawyer for guidance should undoubtedly be on your list of what to do if you are bitten by a dog. A dog bite attorney will keep your best interests in mind while working to recover the compensation you deserve. Contact Ellis & Associates today to schedule a consultation by calling 508-791-7333 or sending us a message online.