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What to do After a Dog Attack

By Weston Personal Injury Attorney on April 30, 2023

Muzzled dog

There are nearly 90 million dogs in the U.S., and any dog can bite, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA). Statistics show that more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year, with children as the most common victims and the most likely to be seriously injured. Florida was one of the top ten states reporting dog bites in 2021. It is important to know what to do in case a dog attacks you or your child.

What Steps Should You Take After a Dog Attack?

If a dog bites you or your child, AMVA recommends that you take the following steps immediately after the incident:

  • Request proof of rabies vaccination from the dog’s owner.
  • Get the owner’s name and contact information.
  • Clean bite wounds as soon as possible with soap and water.
  • Consult with your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately after the attack.
  • Contact the dog’s veterinarian to check vaccination records.

In addition to the above steps, it is wise to:

  • Take pictures of the scene, including the dog, the injuries you or your child sustained, and the location where the attack occurred.
  • Get names and contact information for all witnesses and anyone present at the scene.
  • Write down everything you can remember about the incident as soon as possible after it occurs.
  • Call animal control and file a report. Their investigation may help your case and prevent others from being bitten in the future.

When Should You See a Doctor?

Get medical attention as soon as possible for dog bite injuries. Call an ambulance if necessary or go to an emergency room or your doctor’s office right away. Dog bites that puncture the skin can lead to serious infections. If the dog’s vaccinations are not up to date, the risk is even greater. Seeing a doctor as soon as possible after a dog attack documents your injuries and treatment, which can help support a claim for compensation in the future.

What Information Should You Gather at the Time of the Attack?

If you are able, gather as much information as possible at the scene of the attack. If the dog owner is present, get as much information as possible. In addition to name, contact information, and whether the dog’s rabies vaccinations are up to date, ask for the names of the owner’s insurance company and the dog’s veterinarian. If other people are present on the scene, ask them if they witnessed the attack and get their names and contact information. Take pictures of everything that may be relevant to your claim, including the dog and your injuries.

At What Point Should You Involve a Lawyer?

Florida has strict liability dog bite laws. To hold dog owners liable, you are not required to prove negligence, only that the dog bit you while you were in a public place or lawfully in a private place. There is an exception to this rule when a dog attack occurs on the dog owner’s property and warning signs are posted that say “Beware of Dog” or have similar language.

Homeowners insurance typically covers dog bite claims. Insurance companies are in business for profit and have teams of attorneys to fight against your claim. The sooner you get a lawyer involved after a dog attack, the better your chances of recovering the full compensation you deserve.

Posted in: Personal Injury

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