If you or a loved one has recently been bitten by someone else's dog, or if you're in a situation where you're worried it could happen, it's important to seek the appropriate help—not just to protect yourself, but also to hopefully prevent others from becoming victims as well. In the heat of the moment, emotions can run high, and mistakes can be made. Here are the right ways to properly handle the situation if you've been bitten by a dog.
If you ever find yourself in the midst of an attack, there are a few tips that could save your life. First of all, don't pull away from the bite, as that could cause you further injury. Secondly, do everything you can to protect your face, thighs, chest, and throat, and keep your hands curled into fists to protect your fingers.
Because of major blood vessels in the upper arms and legs, the safest place to take a bite is the forearm or shin. If the dog does manage to latch onto your shin and doesn't let go, see if you can lift the dog's back legs off the ground. This may seem like a ninja move, but if you can pull it off, it will likely force the dog to release.
Seek Medical Care
No matter how mild your injuries may seem, it's imperative to see your doctor if the bite breaks the skin or if you suspect a broken bone. A dog's mouth can carry aggressive germs, and what might seem mild to you can turn into an infection quickly.
Before going to the doctor, flush the wound well and wash with soap to help kill as much bacteria as possible. If bleeding is profuse, obviously you will need to apply pressure and get to the hospital right away. But if you are able to control the bleeding, you should still seek medical treatment within eight hours. This will be an important step in preventing infection and documenting your injuries should a lawsuit arise.
Alert the Authorities
Law enforcement should be involved anytime an animal becomes aggressive towards a human. The dog's owners will need to be questioned on the history of rabies vaccinations, and the dog may need to be quarantined for a certain length of time. Also, law enforcement can conduct a proper investigation that could help your case. And lastly, if the dog is a stray without a home, they should be removed from the area so that no one else gets injured.
Document What Happened
Take pictures of injuries, and write down everything that happened as soon as possible. As time passes, it can be easy to forget small details that make a huge difference when proving fault. Pictures may become vital down the road if your case should go to trial.
Seek Legal Counsel
If you've sustained any injuries, you should consult with a personal injury attorney. In most states, the dog owner is responsible for paying medical expenses to the victim. If the pet owner is also a homeowner, the insurance will typically pay up. But trying to handle this on your own isn't advised because an attorney can actually help you get up to three and a half times more money than if you represent yourself.
Do Not Confront the Owner
There may be times that you need to speak with a neighbor to determine who owns the dog, or the owner may be present when the attack occurs. If this is the case, try to remain calm, and don't throw accusations or become confrontational. This can be challenging when the fight-or-flight response kicks in or even after the fact when your adrenaline is still soaring. However, people tend to be naturally protective of their pets, even when their precious Fido has done something wrong. Yelling and throwing blaming can make the situation worse. So keep your angry emotions in check and let the authorities, and your attorney, handle the situation for the best possible outcome. For more advice, contact a lawyer at a law firm like Burke Schultz Harman & Jenkinson Attorneys at Law.