If you are involved in a dog bite, do you know what to do? Having a plan and knowing your priorities after a dog bite will help you keep calm and deal with the consequences of the incident. Although each situation is unique and the protocol in certain situations may vary, the following is a generally a good approach.
1. Assess the Situation and Call For Help
Check to see if you or anyone else involved in the incident is harmed. Safety is the priority, and you should call an ambulance immediately if anyone is injured as medical professionals are best suited to assess whether any injuries may be serious. You should also try to find the dog owner’s name and address, if you can. This may allow you to sue for damages if you require medical care, and can help your healthcare provider determine what treatments might be needed, such as rabies vaccinations.
2. Report the Dog Bite Incident to Local Authorities
Under state law, local animal control officers must seek court-ordered restrictions when dogs that, without justification, attack or injure people or other pets, or behave in a manner which a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury. Following a “dangerous dog” court hearing, if a judge determines that a dog is dangerous, the judge may require that the dog be muzzled at all times in public or be evaluated and trained by an expert, to help prevent future attacks. Court findings in a dangerous dog hearing could then be used against the dog owner or other parties, such as landlords, in a personal injury claim made by the dog bite victim seeking compensation for their personal injuries.
3. Mind What You Say
Be careful of what you say to others about the incident and do not admit fault. The phrase “What you say can and will be used against you” typically refers to criminal matters but this principle also applies to civil matters, such as personal injury cases arising from a dog bite. Try to remain calm and avoid apologizing and blaming others or yourself as to why the bite occurred. If you are interviewed by the police or animal control investigating the incident, stick to the facts as you recall them and try not to speculate or guess. A simple “I do not know” is an appropriate response if you are unsure of any specific details.
4. Document Everything
When it is safe to do so, use your cell phone or another camera to photograph the injuries, the location where the attack occurred, and any other photos you believe would be helpful in proving what happened. If you do not have a camera available, take a few brief notes about the incident and sketch a diagram of the scene. Keep all records and note as much as possible, including incident reports, medical treatments, and lost time from work.
5. Consult with an Attorney
Contact an attorney for advice on how to proceed. If you are injured, consider hiring an attorney that handles personal injury cases to protect your rights regarding pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Dog bite incidents are frightening and upsetting. Knowing what to do will save you from problems down the road and help get you through what can be an emotional and challenging process.
Please contact attorney Peter J. Gregory at 585.512.3506 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss how this may impact you. Peter is an attorney in MCCM’s litigation group where he represents clients in a broad range of civil litigation matters including personal injury law.
This publication is intended as an information source for clients, prospective clients, and colleagues and constitutes attorney advertising. The content should not be considered legal advice and readers should not act upon information in this publication without individualized professional counsel.
McConville Considine Cooman & Morin, P.C. is a full service law firm based in Rochester, New York, providing high quality legal services to businesses and individuals since 1979. With over a dozen attorneys and a full paralegal support staff, the firm is well-positioned to right-size services tailored to each client. We are large enough to provide expertise in a broad range of practice areas, yet small enough to devote prompt, personal attention to our clients.
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