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Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Incident

— June 6, 2022

One of the major mistakes people make after a dog bite is to stop following doctors’ orders when they start feeling better.

Getting bitten by a dog is no laughing matter. Dog bites are all too common and can happen to anyone. People have been bitten by dogs while out for a jog, sitting in a park, visiting a friend, or simply walking home.

The steps you should take after a dog bite incident vary based on whether you were bitten by a stray or a pet. However, in any case, taking action is key to recovering quickly from your dog bite incident. 

Get Medical Attention

Even if the bite was minor, it is a good idea to get medical attention as soon as possible. If the bite has broken the skin and you are bleeding, leaving the wound untreated can lead to infection or other complications.

At the scene, allow medical personnel to examine you and record your injuries. This will also establish a pattern of care should you need to take legal action later. 

Take Photos of Your Injuries

A picture is worth a thousand words, so take photos of your bite and keep them for your records. If you have video of the scene – or the dog – that will work well should you have to litigate. Present the evidence to your dog bite lawyer in Austin and they will know how to put them to best use.

Find the Dog’s Owner

If you are at a park and the dog was off the leash, find the owner and report the injury. Exchange phone numbers with them to ensure that you can get the pet’s health records. 

Getting a rabies shot can be extremely painful and costly, so it helps if you can find the owner to prevent having to get unnecessary shots. Get the owner’s insurance information, since homeowners’ policies often cover dog bites. 

If the dog is a stray, you may have to go a different route in determining the history of the animal. Ask neighbors if they have seen this dog wandering the neighborhood and whether it is known to have bitten anyone else. 

Call Animal Control

A stray dog roaming the neighborhood biting people is an emergency. If you have already called 911, they will notify animal control. If you have not, you will need to get animal control involved. They will likely come and take the dog off the street and have it checked for rabies.

An Australian police dog. Image via Photographer: (Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sebastian McCormack). (Public domain).

If this happens, keep in touch with animal control to find out the results of the dog’s medical tests. If rabies is detected, you will have to get treated immediately. 

Talk to Witnesses

If there are witnesses who saw you get bit by the dog, get their contact information so you can write up a report if necessary. 

Follow Your Doctor’s Orders

One of the major mistakes people make after a dog bite is to stop following doctors’ orders when they start feeling better. If the doctor prescribes an antibiotic, you have to take the full course, even if the pain subsides shortly after the attack. If you start to feel intense pain, numbness, or tingling in the affected area, report it to your doctor immediately. 

Keep Quiet

Do not get into a huge discussion with the dog’s owner. Do not say, “oh, I guess I scared the dog when I screamed,” or “dogs bite me all the time.” Do not admit to being somewhere you should not have been.

If you were on their property when you were bitten, do not disclose this to the owner. When the owner’s insurance company calls you to settle – and they will – do not talk to them without first talking to your attorney. 

Stay Calm and Act Fast

Dog bite incidents are traumatic. Dogs have been known to maim and even kill people, so the legal penalties for allowing a dog to wander around and bite people are steep. Therefore, do not hesitate to take legal action.

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