Each year, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by a dog in the United States. In about 20% of these cases, the dog bite injury is severe enough to require medical attention. Dog bites can happen anytime, including when you are least expecting them. When they happen, victims are often unsure what their next steps should be. Having handled cases involving serious dog bite injuries, the trial lawyers at Garmey Law have some suggestions.
What to Do If You Get Bitten By a Dog
Seek medical attention. No matter how you’ve been injured, our first advice is always to take care of yourself. When it comes to dog bites, risks range from rabies to blood loss to infection, and you should seek medical help immediately and follow your doctor’s instructions. Getting prompt medical care will also help you document your injuries, which could be important down the road if you need to file a claim or lawsuit.
Take photos of your injury. These photos will also help document and prove your injuries. And don’t just take pictures the day of the injury; continue to document your bruises and wounds as they heal to help show how long it takes to get better.
Get the dog owner’s insurance information. If you don’t know the owner, try contacting animal control. They may be able to identify the owner if the dog has a microchip. Naturally, if the dog’s owner is a friend, relative, or neighbor, you might feel reluctant to file a claim against them. You should know, however, that in many cases, a person’s homeowner’s, renter’s, or umbrella personal liability insurance will cover dog bite injuries caused by their pet, which means that compensation for your injury is less likely to come out of the owner’s pocket.
Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. You may be entitled to significant compensation for your injuries. The dog owner’s insurance company has representatives and lawyers who aim to pay you as little as possible – and even argue that the insurance policy does not cover a dog bite. The amount you can recover will depend on factors such as whether the dog bite happened at the owner’s home, whether the owner knew the dog could be dangerous, the significance of your injury, and the law in the state where you were bitten. Having a lawyer of your own will even the playing field when it comes to negotiating with insurers and get you ready to file a lawsuit if need be.
Tips for Preventing a Dog Bite Injury
Getting prompt medical and legal help after a dog bite will help you heal your injuries and relieve the financial burden your injuries cause. Even better, though, is preventing a dog bite in the first place. Here are some tips:
- Supervise your children if they are around dogs.
- Teach your children not to tease dogs, take away their toys, touch them when they sleep or eat, or jump on them.
- Always ask a dog’s owner if it’s okay to approach the dog, and teach kids to do the same.
- Let the dog see and sniff you before you touch it.
- If a dog does threaten you, stay calm, avoid making eye contact, and remain still or back away slowly.
- If a dog is wearing a bandana, find out why before approaching it. Sometimes, owners use bandanas to signal that a dog is working, does not want to be approached by dogs or people, or has a health or behavioral condition to watch out for.
Dogs can be unpredictable. No matter how careful you are, you could still get bitten. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Garmey Law can help you get the maximum compensation that Maine law provides for dog bite victims. This may include compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, psychological distress, and other losses and expenses caused by your dog bite injury. If you choose to work with us, we will analyze your case, determine the value of your claim, negotiate with the dog owner’s insurance company on your behalf, and take the insurance company to court, if necessary. Contact us today for a free consultation.