Important Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Accident
Due to the high number of dog bite cases that come into our office, many people often reach out to ask about the steps that they should take to document and preserve their case against the owner of the dog. This article will help walk you through those steps to give you a better understanding of what makes up a dog bite case.
Seek medical attention
If a dog bite takes place, depending on the severity, you want to get medical attention right away. The type of medical attention that you seek depends on the severity of the dog bite. We have seen scenarios with broken arms, lacerations, and bleeding out. Of course in this situation, you should call 911 immediately. Along with the EMS crew, the police will generally show up for severe calls to further investigate the scene.
If the injury is less severe, you may not need to call 911. For example, if it is a bite to the arm, you want to administer first aid to that area of the arm. Most importantly, keep the wound clean to avoid infection. Then you should get to the hospital right away for further treatment.
Identifying the dog’s owner
Depending on the circumstances, you may want to have law enforcement come out to see who owns the dog. It’s also a good idea to see if the dog has rabies or any other communicable disease. If it’s a dog at large and you do not know the owner, you should call animal control. If the dog has a microchip, animal control will be able to identify the owner.
Finding the owner of the dog is crucial to your chance of receiving compensation for your injuries. In the context of a civil claim — putting aside the medical issues that we talked about earlier — you want to be sure to find the owner of the dog. The owner is often times a neighbor or someone in your local neighborhood. Keep this in mind: the only way to reimburse your medical expenses (and lost wages) is to hold the dog owner responsible. You can’t sue the dog itself! Unfortunately, many people come to our firm without the identification of the dog’s owner. In these situations, there is nothing that a lawyer can do until the owner of the dog is identified.
Claims go through the dog owner’s insurance
Hopefully, the owner will have some level of insurance — home owner’s policy, a general liability policy or a business liability policy if it took place at place of business. Almost inevitably, there is usually some level of insurance available. Again, this is why it’s so important to identify the dog’s owner.
Document your injuries (take pictures!)
After you were treated medically, worked with law enforcement, and identified the dog owner, your next step is to focus on documentation — particularly if it involves significant bodily deformation. In other words, you should be taking periodic photographs.
Medical records document your medical history and the treatment that is required moving forward. Unfortunately, medical documents do not include photographs in most cases. For this reason, you need to do this on your own. This is because it can be difficult to describe your injuries many years down the road to a jury or the opposing insurance carrier without the use of pictures. Pictures will help you overcome any skepticism that a jury or an opposing insurance carrier might have in reference to the severity of your injuries. Pictures are a great companion to your medical records — they help tell the story for you in a way that words cannot always do.
Follow your doctor’s orders
When it comes to following your doctor’s orders after a dog bite, it’s important to understand A Duty to Mitigate Damages under Oregon Law. First, let’s just say this: follow your doctor’s orders! Now, let’s talk about why this is so important.
As an example, let’s say you decide not to go to your four-week follow up with your doctor. Now your injury gets worse. In fact, it’s severely infected. Now you are hospitalized with antibiotic IVs that need to be administered. To a certain extent, these issues are your fault because you decided not to go to your follow-up appointment. If you would have followed your doctor’s orders, you wouldn’t need to be hospitalized with antibiotics. Insurance companies will not cover these medical costs because they will argue that these costs could have been reasonably avoided.
Consult a lawyer after a dog bite
The rules and regulations involving dogs and animal liability are fairly complex. Dealing with the liability laws and the damages related to your case can get very complicated, very quickly. Most importantly to remember: be sure to capture the facts of your injury so that they can be applied to the law. Your lawyer will be able to utilize the documentation and the facts that you gathered to help build a case that will lead you to the compensation that you deserve.
If you or anyone you know was injured due to a dog bite here in the state of Oregon, contact us today at Dwyer Williams Cherkoss Accident Injury Attorneys for a free case evaluation. You can also reach us directly at: 1-800-285-8678. With over 100 years of combined experience, our team of highly skilled personal injury attorneys will work hard to ensure that you receive the justice that you deserve!