What to Do After a Dog Bite? There are dog-lovers all over the world, but few people love dog bites. In fact, dog bites can cause serious injuries, including lacerations, infections, and even amputations. If you have been bitten by a dog, it is important to take all necessary steps in order to ensure that you are caring for the physical wound as well as preparing for any necessary legal action. After all, medical treatments for wounds caused by dog bites can be very expensive. In some cases, dog bites can cause disfigurement that requires reconstructive surgery. As a result of the detachment of fingers or toes, reattachment surgery and extensive rehabilitation and physical therapy will be required. This can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and there is no reason that you should have to shoulder the financial burden caused by someone else’s uncontrolled animal. In this post, we will make sure that you know exactly what to do in the aftermath of a dog bite.
While it may be hard to think about anything other than the excruciating pain you are feeling, and likely the blood that is rapidly leaving your body, there are some actions that you can take in the aftermath of a dog attack or dog bite incident in order to get the best treatment and in order to be able to bring legal action later if necessary. First, you can get the name and contact information of the dog’s owner if it has one. You can ask to take a photo of their license and have them call your phone to prevent them from giving you fake contact information in an effort to avoid liability.
You can also photograph the dog and the wound. If the dog has vaccine tags make sure to ask the owner to take a photograph of those too (you likely do not want to get close enough to take that photo). If the dog does not have vaccine tags, ask the owner to send you the dog’s vaccine information, including proof of vaccines. This information is important because the doctor will ask you about it when you get medical treatment, and it can impact the medications and injections that you need to receive.
Unlike a car accident, it can be very easy for a dog owner to disappear and leave you with no way to contact or identify them, so the more pictures, documentation, and information that you can gather in the moments after the injury occurs, the more helpful it will be later on. Of course, if the dog bite occurs at someone’s home, rather than on the street, you are much more likely to know who the owner is and how to contact them.
Another reason that it is important to get the dog-owner’s name is that they may have homeowners’ insurance. Homeowners’ insurance and some renter’s insurance policies cover dog bite injuries. In fact, it is estimated that one-third of all homeowners’ claims are for dog bite injuries. Of course, the homeowner will be responsible for filing the claim, that will not fall on you. You may even receive a call from a claims adjuster at their insurance company within the next couple of days after the accident to gather more information on your injury so they can begin preparing a settlement offer.
Dog’s saliva contains a great deal of bacteria. When your skin is punctured by a dog’s teeth, this bacteria is transferred into your open wound. It does not take long for this bacteria to make its way into the bloodstream, so it is important to disinfect the wound as soon as possible to prevent serious infection. In fact, 50% of dog bites introduce bacteria into the wound, including strains such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, and pasteurella, as well as capnocytophaga.
You can disinfect the wound using an astringent, such as hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. You should apply it liberally both inside and around the wound to ensure that the wound is sanitized. You can also wash the wound out with a saline solution or soap and water to make sure any external debris is also removed. After you are sure that the wound is clean, you can apply pressure with a clean cloth or piece of clothing to slow the bleeding. If you have triple antibiotic ointment or another kind of antibiotic cream, you can apply this to the wound, but you should avoid getting it inside of the wound, try to only use it externally.
Next, wrap the wounds with a bandage, first making sure that it is sterile. Keep the bandage on until you see your doctor, and see your doctor as soon as possible. If an appointment with your doctor will take more than a day or so, it is a good idea to go to urgent care or the emergency room. You should change the bandage several times a day to ensure that the wound is kept clean and that no bacteria is being trapped in the wound.
Once you see a doctor, they may prescribe antibiotics to fend off any possible infections. Depending on the severity of your bite, you may require stitches or surgery, but in most cases, dog bite wounds will be left open to heal. You may also need to get a tetanus shot if you received your last one more than ten years ago. The primary concern when treating dog bites is controlling the infection.
The doctor will likely ask you questions about the dog in order to best gauge medical concerns and how to proceed with treatment. For instance, if the dog was a stray or was exhibiting peculiar symptoms, such as drooling from the mouth, it may have had rabies. Rabies can be treated with a series of injections, which may be necessary to receive if it is possible that you were exposed to the disease through a dog bite. It should also be noted that individuals with compromised immune systems, chronic illnesses, or other health conditions, will likely be more susceptible to developing an infection or other complications from the dog bite, so additional precautions may need to be taken.
Within 24 hours of being bitten by a dog, you should report the dog bite to the health commissioner in your jurisdiction. The health commissioner will have you complete and submit a “bite incident report.” The commissioner will make sure that the dog is quarantined for 10 days, during which time it will be observed for rabies. The bite incident report should be filed in the jurisdiction in which the dog bite occurred, in the event that the dog bite occurred in a different jurisdiction than you live in.
According to the Ohio Health Commissioner, they receive over 15,000 bite incident reports annually. These reports allow them to create the dangerous dog registry, as well as to help victims of dog bites determine if they may be at risk for rabies. The rabies vaccines are not a pleasant process, so it is preferable not to have to undergo them if it is not necessary due to it being confirmed that the dog is healthy and not carrying the virus. In case you are feeling bad about reporting the dog, it may help you to know that the dog is not confiscated and may be quarantined within the owner’s home.
After you have received medical treatment, the next step is contacting an attorney. An attorney can review the facts of your case to determine how best to proceed. Ohio dog-bite law is somewhat complicated, so it is good to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the jurisdiction in Ohio that you are in, the dog owner may be liable for any bite that their dog causes, or they may only be liable if their dog has already bitten someone once. If their dog has already bitten someone once, it is considered a dangerous dog and should be listed on the dangerous dog registry. If the dog is on the dangerous dog registry, the owner is liable for the harm that it caused and can be held liable in civil court by bringing a lawsuit. This is also true if you are not in a common-law jurisdiction of Ohio.
As you can see, this is hardly straightforward, so it is helpful to consult with an attorney to get an accurate sense of what your options are. Your attorney can also handle communications with the homeowners’ insurance company to help you avoid common pitfalls in insurance negotiation and ensure that you get the maximum amount that your claim is worth, to provide for your medical care, as well as for any time you were forced to take off of work due to your injury. You may also be able to recover from the emotional trauma of the incident. Many factors go into the calculation of damages, so it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney to get an accurate idea of what your claim is worth and whether you have the standing to bring a personal injury claim in Ohio to recover for your harm.
If you are not able to bring a claim under Ohio’s dog-bite statute due to the dog not having been reported for biting anyone before, you may still be able to bring a lawsuit under a common law theory such as negligence. Bringing a personal injury claim for negligence requires you to show that the dog owner was acting negligently and recklessly such that they should have known that this kind of injury would occur. A lawyer can review the facts of your case to determine the best course of action to take legally, whether it is filing a claim under the dog bite statute or bringing a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence. Either way, having a dedicated advocate on your side who can help you navigate the process will be an invaluable asset.
The amount of damages that you are entitled to for a dog-bite injury depends on the severity of your injury. You will be entitled to economic damages for all actual costs incurred as a result of the bite. This includes things like medical expenses, prescription medication, and transportation to doctor’s appointments. If you were unable to work due to the dog bite, you can also receive compensation for your lost wages. You can also pursue compensation for pain and suffering, which is meant to compensate you for the physical and emotional trauma caused by the incident.
Additionally, if you bring a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence, you may have the option to pursue punitive damages as well. Unlike economic damages and pain and suffering damages which are meant to make the victim of the dog bite whole, punitive damages are awarded in order to punish the owner of the dog and to try and discourage this kind of behavior from happening again. Punitive damages tend to only be awarded in cases where it is possible to demonstrate extreme recklessness or negligence or malicious conduct. For instance, if someone ordered their dog to attack you, or let a dog that was known to be vicious loose around small children. There are many factors that go into the calculation of damages, so the best way to get an accurate idea of the number of damages that you may be entitled to is to speak directly with an Ohio personal injury attorney.
If you have suffered a serious injury due to a dog bite, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Kruger & Hodges Attorneys at Law want to hear from you. Serving the City of Hamilton, and Butler County, Ohio, our lawyers are dedicated to helping you get the support and compensation that you are entitled to. Contact Kruger & Hodges Attorneys at Law and start taking back control of your life. Schedule a consultation today.