Dogs may be man’s best friend, but when you are bitten by one, it can be a real nightmare. Dog bites are frightening, and they can cause serious injuries in a matter of seconds. Each year, approximately 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs, so these incidents are more common than many animal lovers would like to believe. Keep in mind, also, that nearly half of bite victims are between the ages of 5 and 9 and that one in five dog bites requires medical attention.
If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, knowing what to do next is crucial. By taking appropriate action, it is often possible to mitigate the damage. Following the proper procedure is also important when it comes to ensuring that you are eligible to receive compensation for your or your child’s injuries. Here are the steps to take after a dog bite injury.
Treat the Injury
In most instances, cleaning the wound is the first step you should take when someone has been bitten by a dog. In cases of serious injuries caused by vicious attacks, though, it may be best to call 911 first.
Clean wounds using soap and water. Apply pressure with a soft, dry cloth to stop any bleeding. If the injury is small, use an antibiotic ointment to help prevent infection. Once the bleeding has mostly or completely stopped, bandage the wound using clean gauze or bandages.
When treating puncture wounds, do not use hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol or Mercurochrome. These products can damage healthy tissue and make the healing process take longer.
If you feel weak or the bleeding persists, seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. You should also seek medical treatment if you have not had a tetanus shot in more than five years or if you are unsure of the dog’s vaccine status.
You may also want to see a doctor if you have health conditions that could make you more susceptible to serious infections. Illnesses that suppress your immune system, such as diabetes and liver disease, can all increase your chances of developing a severe infection as the result of a dog bite.
If you choose not to seek medical attention, pay close attention to the wound as it heals. Dogs have a lot of bacteria in their mouths, so infections are always a concern. If you notice any signs of infection or the wound doesn’t seem to be healing, contact your doctor right away.
Gather Information About the Dog and Owner
Find out who the dog belongs to and get their address. Request proof of the dog’s vaccine history, especially their rabies vaccine status. If you are unable to establish whether the dog is up-to-date on its rabies vaccination, you may need to undergo a series of rabies shots.
Ask for a copy of the dog’s license. Take pictures of your wounds to prove the extent of your injuries. File a dog bite report with your county or city authorities. This report provides legal proof of the bite and could help the next victim who is bitten by the same dog. When filing the report, be sure to note the location where the bite took place, what you were doing and how the animal was behaving prior to the bite. It’s also important to note whether the dog’s owner was present or the animal was running at large.
If you were bitten by an unknown dog and are not able to obtain any information about it, do not attempt to catch or hold the animal. Doing so puts you at risk of additional injury. Instead, contact animal control in your area right away and provide them with a description of the animal.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
Dog bites are not something that should be taken lightly. In addition to physical injuries, they can cause mental and emotional pain and suffering. If you have suffered from this type of personal injury as a result of another dog owner’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The dog owner may be responsible for covering the cost of your medical expenses. You may also be entitled to receive compensation for any pain and suffering you experienced as a result of the bite. Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following the bite to ensure that your rights are protected.
At Kopelman Sitton, we have experience representing clients in dog bite and other personal injury claims. If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, please contact us right away.