What to Do If You’ve Been Bitten by a Dog
They are man’s best friend. And to many of us, dogs are beloved members of our families. But the close proximity of humans and dogs can sometimes result in injuries — namely dog bites. And it’s not just children and mail carriers who get bit by dogs. In fact, dog bites are more common than you may expect.
Dog bites can range from minor to deadly, and everything else in between. One thousand Americans require emergency care from dog bites every day. And each year, 15,000 people are admitted to hospitals for medical care after a dog bite. And that’s not even taking into consideration those who neglected to seek medical care for their dog bites.
Being bit by a dog — whether it’s a stranger’s pet or the dog of an acquaintance — is a jarring experience. Dogs can cause great bodily harm, even death, and injuries can escalate to more serious internal infections. A dog bite injury could prevent you from doing physical activities, like household chores. Some serious injuries could even leave you out of work and unable to pay bills. Some people need cosmetic surgery after a dog bite.
After a dog bite, you need to be sure to get the medical care you need, while also ensuring your rights are protected as a dog bite victim.
So, if you’re wondering what to do if you’ve been bit by a dog, keep reading to learn more about the steps you need to take for treating your wounds, filing insurance claims, and getting the proper care and compensation to which you’re entitled.
If you have been bit by a dog, here are the most important things you need to do in the aftermath to ensure your safety, health, and rights are protected.
Exchange Information With the Owner of the Dog
After the dog bite, get away from the animal to a safe spot. Then, much like with a car or motorcycle accident, exchange information with the owner of the dog. You will want to collect the person’s name, address, phone number, their veterinarian’s name, and any other pertinent contact information. You will also want to ask the owner for proof of the dog’s rabies vaccination, and later on, you can also contact the dog’s vet to verify the animal’s vaccines.
Collect Information From Witnesses Of the Incident
After you exchange information with the dog’s owner, get the contact information of any witnesses that were present at the scene of the dog bite. Witnesses can help you provide an account for what happened, which will be essential should there be a lawsuit over the dog bite, or even for filing the insurance claim.
Take Photos Of the Dog Bite
If you’ve been bit by a dog, you will want to take photos of the injury. Take photos as soon as you can, including before and after medical treatment, and continue to take photos as your wound heals. The purpose of taking photos is to document the extent of the dog bite, which will be useful when you file an insurance claim or go to court.
Seek Medical Attention for the Dog Bite
After you have been bit by a dog, have exchanged contact information, and have taken photos of the injury, be sure to seek medical treatment.
If the wound is severe, contact first responders or have someone take you to the emergency department. Even if you don’t think you need medical care, it is always a good idea to get a dog bite examined by a medical professional.
The risks of not going to the doctor are too big. You need to rule out the possibility that the dog has rabies. And because of the bacteria found in dogs’ mouths, an infection can develop in the wound. Medical professionals can ensure the wound is properly cleaned, closed, and dressed, and help prevent an infection.
Lastly, seeking medical attention is critical to establishing a paper trail after a dog bite. The documentation will help you as you move forward with an insurance claim.
Document the Experience
Documentation of your entire ordeal is critical to getting the care you deserve. Documentation can include photos, written statements, medical records, police records, and more. For these reasons, you may want to also file a police report on the dog bite in addition to a calling to your local animal control office.
Taking photos of the dog bite wound is not the only documentation you’ll need. After the dog bite, be sure to write down a statement of the incident. Include as many details as you can of the dog bite and the events leading up to it. This is critical to do as soon as possible, as details may slip from memory over time.
Document the effects of the dog bite, including any pain and suffering that you may experience, or decreased mobility. Depending on the severity of the bite, you may also be limited or unable to perform certain functions as you recover from your wound, like household chores or even your job. These should also be documented.
Know Your Rights After a Dog Bite
Sometimes victims of a dog bite will be reluctant to file an insurance claim. They don’t want to make a scene. They don’t want to cause economic hardship for the pet owner. And if the pet owner if a friend, family member, or neighbor, there can be expectations to settle things without insurance. They may offer to pay your medical bills and even ask you to not file a claim, contact the police, or call animal control.
But filing an insurance claim after a dog bite is critical to ensuring you get the care you need. In Minnesota, dog owners are held responsible for bites, unless the individual who was bitten was not acting peaceably or was breaking the law. As long as those don’t apply to you, you have every right to file an insurance claim after a dog bite.
File an Insurance Claim
Most dog bites are covered in homeowners’ insurance policies. Even if the dog bite did not occur within the dog owner’s home, perhaps at a park or other public place, most policies still cover dog bites. If the dog bite occurred in a vehicle, the dog owner’s car insurance may cover the bite.
If the owner has already had other claims filed against the dog for bites, attacks, or injuries, the insurance company may not pay to cover a subsequent bite. Some insurance policies don’t cover specific dog breeds, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers. If the owner of the dog does not have home or auto insurance, you are entitled to take legal action. Without it, you may have to bear the burden of all medical costs and lost wages alone.
Speak With an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Consider speaking with a personal injury attorney if you’ve been bit by a dog. An attorney can help you navigate the complicated insurance system if you’re recovering from a dog bite. While we’d all like to think that insurance companies have our best interests at heart and will protect us when we need them most, the sympathetic insurance company is a myth. Instead, insurance companies underpay on claims in order to be profitable.
A personal injury attorney who is experienced in dog bite cases can be a useful ally to you and negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company to get you your full benefits. And they can go head to head with the insurance companies to make sure you get what you need.
Personal injury attorneys are experts at navigating the insurance system, which is excessively complicated by design. Attorneys can advocate for you with their knowledge and expertise of dog bite compensation. Whether through insurance claims, settlements, or lawsuits, personal injury attorneys can help you understand local laws for dog bites and get a fair settlement.
Attorneys know the tactics and techniques insurance companies use to try to underpay claims. They can help you get the compensation you’re entitled to after a dog bite, including medical expenses, lost or reduced wages, and pain and suffering.
Attorneys negotiate with insurance companies to get you a fair settlement. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, the case goes to court. And for most personal injury lawyers, insurance claims are handled on contingency, meaning you don’t need to pay anything upfront. And you won’t pay anything out of pocket either.
Have You Suffered From a Dog Bite?
Weston Law Office helps people in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the greater Twin Cities suburbs get the care and compensation they need following a dog bite or animal attack. We work with your insurance company to negotiate a fair settlement for your medical bills, pain, suffering, and lost wages.
Get the full benefits to which you’re entitled. Contact us today about how we can help you reach a fair settlement on your dog bite insurance claim. Consultations are 100% free and we handle insurance claims on contingency, costing you nothing out of pocket. The only risk is not getting the care you need.