What to do After a Dog Bite

Dogs offer many benefits to people such as companionship and relaxation, so it’s no wonder why approximately 37 - 47% of households in the United States choose to have a dog. This figure makes between 70 - 80 million dogs in the U.S. alone. As with preventing any accident, there are several precautions that people can take to prevent dog bite accidents; but unfortunately, nothing can prevent them 100 percent of the time. Sometimes even the friendliest dogs act unexpectedly and bite innocent people, so it is important for everyone to be educated on what to do after a dog bite.

How often are people bitten by dogs?

Nearly 5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Over half of the people who are bitten by dogs are children. If you thought that dog bites only happen with strange dogs you have never met, this next statistic may shock you. Reports show that nearly half of all dog bites are from a dog that people are familiar with and may have even spent quite a bit of time with. Strange dogs are not typically the dogs that bite people; family pets and friends’ pets often bite people they know.

For households with 2 dogs the likelihood of a dog bite increases by 5 times. Even though many of the dog bites are minor 27,000 require reconstructive surgery.

The Cost

Although hard to imagine, about 1/3 of homeowners' liability insurance claims are from dog bites. The annual cost is estimated to be just under $500M with the average claim payment to be just over $28,000.

I was bitten by a dog, what should I do?

No one ever plans on being bitten by a dog, but unfortunately it happens more than most people realize. Immediate medical attention should be sought for any dog bite. Many dog bites cause nerve damage, become infected, or cause permanent scarring. Once you have arrived at a hospital for medical attention, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, as well as a tetanus shot or rabies vaccination. In cases where a person’s face has been bitten, a plastic surgeon is often brought in.

I’ve received medical attention, now what do I do?

  • Photograph your injuries for documentation purposes.
  • Collect the dog owner’s contact information for insurance purposes.
  • Obtain a police report so that you have an accurate written account of the accident.
  • Alert your local health department about being bitten by a dog.

Do I have a case?

You must first be able to prove that you did not provoke the dog that bit you. As long as you were not at fault, the dog’s owner is responsible for the attack and all of the bills that you incurred from the dog bite. These bills include medical bills, any losses you incurred due to the accident such as pain and suffering and lastly, lost wages and disability and/or disfigurement resulting from the injury.

Many people are hesitant to pursue legal remedies because the dog’s owner is either a friend or family member. A dog owner assumes the risk that if their dog hurts someone, they will be held responsible. In most cases, homeowners or renters insurance often provides coverage for dog attacks, meaning that you are seeking compensation from their insurance and not them directly.

Who can help me?

People often think that dealing with insurance companies is easy, which is far from the truth. If you have been hurt in a dog bite accident, it is important to understand your legal rights before speaking to an insurance company. Call or e-mail us now to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney about your options. We can provide you with a clear explanation of your rights and help you make the best decision regarding your dog bite case.