Too often, you’ll hear news stories about unforeseeable accidents happening to people every day. The same is true for victims of dog attacks. Dog attacks – or even just a bite from a dog – can lead to severe consequences. If this has ever happened to you, then you’re not alone.
A study from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that every year in the US that approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur, with 800,000 of those bites resulting in hospitalization. Plus, these incidents happen to people like postal workers – with 5,714 US postal workers experiencing attacks from dogs in 2018.
As a result, more personal injury cases are popping up in the legal court system.
Why Do Bites Happen?
So, why DO dogs bite humans? Well, according to Canine Journal, dogs tend to bite people for the following reasons:
- Dogs will bite, in response to a situation that they deem stressful.
- Sometimes, dogs will get scared or threatened to where they start biting.
- Mother dogs will protect their pups at all costs (just like how human mothers protect their children).
- Dogs are known to protect themselves and their owners from anyone that they don’t know. (Think of dogs as “security guards,” in this case.)
- Dogs will react if they’re startled from anything – a sudden move, animals going by without notice, etc.
- Chances are, your dog isn’t feeling well, and may need medical attention right away. Or, if it’s someone else’s dog, then leave it alone.
- Sometimes, dogs will gnaw or nip you during doggie play. (You may want to tone donw doggie play, if playing turns into rough-housing, so that the dog doesn’t think it’s okay to be rough-house every so often.)
However, dog bite victims can make mistakes without knowing it, whether from listening to inaccurate advice, or ignoring the situation completely. So, if you find yourself in a situation where you or a loved one have suffered a dog bite, be sure to avoid these 6 mistakes:
- Not Getting Medical Attention Right Away
It’s easy to think that dog bites aren’t that serious, other than the fact that you can potentially bleed from them. Unfortunately, you can’t treat a dog bite at home, even if you have a first aid kit. Dog bites might look minor at first, but you’re only looking at the “surface.” If the bite is left unchecked, it can cause many complications, since a dog’s saliva has harmful bacteria that can lead to infection that’ll affect your whole body. In fact, some dogs can carry rabies, which can make the infection even worse.
The best thing to do once you’re bitten by a dog, is to seek medical attention immediately, so that you can get it treated. Plus, when you receive a doctor’s report of how severe the injury is, it can be useful to you, once you proceed with a lawsuit. Having documentation about the incident should help you get the right compensation for your pain and suffering.
So, seek medical help right away, so that you can establish the link between the dog bite and the injury, and provide the necessary documentation to support your claim.
- Not Learning About Dog Owner
One of the biggest mistakes to do when bitten by a dog is rushing away from the scene to seek medical attention without getting complete contact information from the dog’s owner or handler. While it’s important to get as far away from the dog as possible, you should still figure out who the dog belongs to, so that when you get medical treatment, you’ll at least know who to report for the incident.
Plus, law enforcement and animal control will want to know what had transpired during the incident. That means giving them a name, an address, what the dog looks like, etc.
As tempting it is to let the dog owner get a pass on a “harmless” misunderstanding or slight, not learning about the owner can come with repercussions. Too often, dog owners won’t stick around to talk to you, if their dog happens to attack you. So, forgetting to collect information about them won’t help your case against them at all. If you don’t get their information right away, then you can’t take legal action against them.
Therefore, be sure to have the dog owner’s information right away. And, also know what the dog looks like to add that to your report later.
- Not Reporting The Bite
Now, you may be thinking: “Well, a dog just bit me. There’s nothing I can do about it.” That’s simply NOT true. There IS something that you can do: report it.
While it may be tempting to hold off reporting a dog bite, that’s NEVER the way to go. Even if it feels too early to report the bite, do it anyway. Even if you feel that the incident was your fault, still report it. Even if the dog belongs to your best friend or relative, it’s important to report it anyways. Even if you’re afraid that the dog owner will threaten you either not to tell, or that they won’t like you for reporting, still tell!
Not reporting the bite to police or animal control can be detrimental to your recovery, even if the incident has left you traumatized. There are even times when a dog owner would plead with the victim not to report the incident, and promise to pay for all medical bills – just to not go through with their promises later. Or, failure to report and document the incident may have the dog owner deny that the incident ever happened, which can cost you your right to compensation.
Therefore, it’s important to make a well-documented report of the bite to the authorities. Plus, know that many jurisdictions have laws about dog bite injuries and statutory damages. Once you contact the authorities, they’ll conduct an investigation to establish liability in the case.
- No Photos Of Injury
The truth is, your words alone isn’t enough to make your case, when it comes to suffering a dog bite. People want to “see” the evidence, not just hear about it. So, be sure to take plenty of pictures of the dog bite, along with how the wound has held up during the healing process.
Taking photos of the injury can save you from the headache of not providing visual evidence, when it comes time to take the dog owner to court – or if that’s even possible. In addition, the judge will see how severe the bite is, along with how traumatic the experience was for you.
Therefore, it’s important to take pictures of the injury – photograph where the dog had bit you, and how severe the bite is. Also, take pictures of the bite(s), as you recover. Photographic evidence can get you the compensation you need for pain and suffering.
- Giving A Statement To An Insurance Company
Insurance adjusters extract information from claimants. But the problem with that is, these people will try to use this information against claimants, so that they can save the insurance company as much money as possible. So, if you try to give a statement to an insurance company, then insurance adjusters may request a recorded statement from you, which they can use against you.
For example, they might try to get you little compensation, instead of the amount that you truly deserved. It was reported that in 2014, insurance companies paid $530+ million in dog-bite-related claims. While that may seem like a lot of money for some people, it’s not enough to for others.
Plus, dog owners will want to challenge your claims, if you try to take them to court over their dog. So, without a good attorney, your chances at getting fairly compensated are slim, because not only will the insurance companies hound you, but so will the dog owner.
So, before going to the insurance company, seek out legal representation first. Since the law surrounding dog bite injuries can be a very complex issue, you must consult a qualified dog bite injury attorney that can give you solid advice and great representation. In this way, your attorney can help you negotiate with the dog owner’s insurance provider, or take them to court. Plus, dog bite attorneys are more knowledgeable about these issues than the insurance companies, and won’t want you to settle for less in compensation.
- No Competent Legal Representation
Finally, as suggested before, your chances of winning a dog bite case are very slim, no matter how much you’ve gone through and suffered. Chances are, there’s always money involved in such matters, without taking much into account for the pain and suffering that you might have experienced thus far.
Therefore, you can’t go without legal representation, or else you’ll be intimidated by trained negotiators that want you to receive as little compensation as possible. To make matter worse, insurance companies will often pressure accident victims into quickly settle their claims before the full extent of injuries and other damages are realized, thus leaving victims with less compensation than what they’ve expected.
So, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who can educate you about local dog bite laws and how liability is established. Plus, they’ll handle all communications with the insurance company and negotiate a fair settlement.
BONUS TIP: How To Report To Local Authorities ASAP
Again, don’t wait to report a dog bite. Where it happens to you, or to someone else, report it to authorities – local police and animal control. Don’t treat a dog attack as if it was just an odd spectacle. Treat it as if a crime has been committed.
Making your case to the authorities will get you some documentation on the incident:
- What happened
- How it happened
- Who was involved
- The time and location, and so on
By involving authorities RIGHT AFTER the incident happens – not holding it off a second longer – you’ll most likely have a solid case that can go in your favor. But again:
- Take plenty of pictures (which will be your photographic evidence)
- Get treated, and document the healing process
- Get a medical report from the doctor
Sadly, many people don’t realize how much power that they truly have in a legal stance, when it comes to suffering from dog bites. In fact, you HAVE THE RIGHT to protect yourself from dog attacks, and to see that these accidents don’t happen to you again or to someone else. So, you see, it’s possible to take civil action against a dog owner – regardless if they’re scared of a lawsuit, or they resent you for making the first move. And, it’s possible to receive the right amount of compensation from falling victim to dog bite injuries.
Remember: The last thing you want is to make mistakes when you’re pursuing a case against a dog owner – or worse … you let the incident slide, as if suffering a bite wasn’t a big deal. But the truth is, it IS a big deal, especially when a dog bite can come with harmful and, possibly, life-threatening infections and illnesses.
Don’t leave anything to chance! Don’t wait! Do something! Take action!
As you can see, not doing anything about a dog bite is not an option. You need as much legal protections and compensation as possible, so that something like this hopefully never happens again. By avoiding these 6 mistakes, you’ll be better prepared, if there’s ever the case where you or a loved one are bitten or attacked by someone else’s dog.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome for any dog bite case. Individual situations differ, and laws vary depending on the state and country that you reside in. Also, remember to consult legal advice from an experienced lawyer that can help you to understand current laws and how they may affect a case.
Kristin Herman is a writer and editor at Assignment service. As a marketing writer and consultant, she writes articles about the latest trends in marketing, and she helps various companies improve their advertising efforts.