Did you know that 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by a dog every year? Given that a dog owner can be held strictly liable for pets, it may be the owner’s responsibility to cover the cost of any medical care and damages his or her dog causes another person. What if you get bit by a stray dog? Let us review some tips on how to get help.
1. Safety First. If you are bitten by a stray dog, the first thing you may want to do is get to safety. There is likely no one with the stray dog to restrain it and you want to avoid being bitten again. You can do this by slowly backing away from the dog, not screaming at the dog, or making any sudden noises, and avoiding eye contact with the dog, which can agitate it. Once you are safely away from the animal, your first priority should be examining your injuries. If you require immediate medical care, get to the hospital or call 911.
2. Gather Information. If the bite is not so severe as to require immediate medical care, call animal control to report the incident. Be sure to provide them with a description of the dog, and as much information as possible about the time and location of the incident. This may assist them with tracking down the dog’s owner. If there were any witnesses to the dog bite, try to get their names and contact numbers and determine if they have information regarding the owner of the dog. If you are in the car, or safely away from the dog, try to take a picture of the dog with your phone. Be sure to preserve evidence of the dog bite, by taking photographs and removing and bagging any clothes the dog bit or tore through.
3. Medical Care. If you have not yet sought medical care, you should be seen in an emergency room or urgent care as soon as possible. All dog bites require medical treatment, because even if there may not be a significant injury, there may be a risk of infection, and if the dog’s rabies vaccination is unknown, you may require additional treatment.
4. Make Notes. Once you have received medical treatment, be sure to record what you remember about the incident, and follow up with animal control to get a report and see if the owner of the dog has been determined. Although the dog was alone, it may have wandered from its home, or away from a dog walker, or gotten loose from a dog daycare. It can be important to determine the owner of the dog in order to have them cover your medical expenses and compensation for your pain and suffering.
5. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney. Being bitten by a dog can be a terrifying experience. A qualified personal injury attorney, who specializes in dog bites, may be able to assist you in identifying who was responsible for the dog and with recovering your medical expenses and any other damages.
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