Did you know that California residents experience more dog bites than any other state? About a third of all homeowners’ liability insurance claims are dog-bite related. There are about 4.5 million dog bites reported each year in the US, with one of every five of those bites requiring medical attention. Dogs may be a “man’s best friend,” but just in case of a dog-bite incident, follow these five steps if you or someone you love was bitten.
1. Stay Calm
If you or someone else was bitten, remain calm. It is essential that you don’t begin to argue, yell or raise your voice as it may cause the dog to attack the victim again. Confine the dog to a crate or another room and avoid laying blame or getting defensive.
2. Seek Medical Help & Take Photos
A dog’s front teeth will grab and compress your tissue, and their smaller teeth can also tear your skin. The number one concern with these bites is the infection that can proceed after. Immediately after the bite, press the wound gently to cause some bleeding to help flush out as much bacteria as possible. Make sure to take pictures of the injuries, as legal action may be required. Wash the wound with warm, soapy water and slow the bleeding with a clean cloth. Apply antibiotic cream and wrap it in a sterile bandage. Contact a medical professional for the bite victim; no matter how minor the bite is, a mild injury can get serious very fast. Depending on the severity of the bite, an ambulance may be needed. Your doctor will likely clean the wound again, apply antibiotic ointment and prescribe antibiotics if there’s an infection concern. Depending on the wound, your doctor may recommend stitches.
3. Exchange Contact Information
Exchange contact information with the dog’s owners or the victim. In some jurisdictions, this is required. Be sure to give your name, address, phone number, etc. and gather information from witnesses, taking photos of the owner’s driver’s license, the dog and the surroundings. If the situation is fluid, take video instead and don’t stop until the situation is over.
4. Locate the Dog’s Medical Records
It is important to identify the dog’s owner (if you are able) and the animal that bit you because if it is a stray, you’re facing the possibility of having to submit to treatment for rabies. If the dog owner is insured, you might get a call from an insurance company representative. Be sure to ask for the name of the insurance company, their address, phone number, claim number, the name of the person who is insured, and the amount of money available to pay the expenses. If you are in the Pleasanton, California area or in Northern California, the attorneys at Bonjour, Thorman, Burns & Dahm are here to help you. Reach out to us anytime.
5. Inform Local Authorities
Inform local authorities of the incident and comply with their orders. You should always make your own report to the animal control agency in your jurisdiction. There is a chance that you may press criminal charges or initiate a civil suit. California’s dog bite law, section 3342 of the Civil Code, states that the owner of any dog is liable for damages if the damages were caused by a dog bite and the person bitten was in a public place or lawfully in a private place. California is a “strict liability” state for dog bites, meaning that an owner is responsible for all damages resulting from a dog bite. A California dog owner may raise the defense of “trespassing” against a dog bite claim; the dog bite rule requires an injured person to be either in a public place or lawfully in a private place to collect damages from a dog bite. In either case, you should hire an attorney immediately.
Are You the Victim of a Bog Bite?
If you or a loved one are the victim of a dog bite you do not have to prove liability on the part of the dog owner to collect. Even if the dog that bit you got out accidentally, and without the owner’s knowledge, you may still be entitled to compensation. Contact Bonjour, Thorman, Burns & Dahm for a free initial consultation to learn more about pursuing a claim when you have been the victim of a dog bite. (Here is a map to our Pleasanton office.)
Our Dog Bite Attorneys Will Fight for You