What steps should a dog bite victim take? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Being bitten by a dog can be a traumatic and painful experience, and it’s essential for dog bite victims to take specific steps promptly to protect their health and legal rights. Here are the crucial steps that a dog bite victim should take:

Seek Immediate Medical Attention

The first and most critical step is to seek immediate medical attention for your injuries, no matter how minor they may appear. Dog bites can lead to serious infections, including rabies and tetanus, as well as other complications. A healthcare professional will clean and treat the wound, assess the risk of infection, and may recommend antibiotics or other necessary treatments.

Identify the Dog and Owner

If possible, try to identify the dog and its owner. This information will be crucial for medical and legal purposes. Ask the owner for their contact information and the dog’s vaccination history if available. If the dog is a stray or the owner is unknown, contact local animal control or the police to report the incident and provide a description of the dog.

Document the Incident

It’s important to document the dog bite incident as thoroughly as possible. This includes taking photographs of the bite wound, surrounding area, and the dog if it can be done safely. Documenting the scene of the incident, the date, time, and any witnesses present can also be helpful for future legal proceedings.

Obtain Witness Information

If there were witnesses to the dog bite, collect their names and contact information. Witnesses may provide statements regarding the circumstances of the attack, which can be invaluable if legal action becomes necessary.

Report the Incident

Report the dog bite to your local animal control agency or law enforcement. They will investigate the incident, assess the dog’s behavior, and take appropriate action to ensure public safety. Reporting the incident is essential in case the dog poses a risk to others.

Follow Medical Recommendations

Comply with all medical recommendations and treatment plans provided by healthcare professionals. This may include follow-up appointments, wound care instructions, and completing any prescribed courses of antibiotics. Failing to follow medical advice can negatively impact your recovery and potential legal claims.

Consult with an Attorney

Consider consulting with a personal injury attorney, particularly if the dog bite results in significant injuries or if there are complications. An attorney can provide legal guidance, assess your case, and help you determine whether you have grounds for a personal injury claim against the dog owner.

Keep Records and Receipts

Maintain records of all expenses related to the dog bite, including medical bills, prescriptions, and travel costs for medical appointments. Keep receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the injury. These records will be important for seeking compensation.

Be Cautious on Social Media

Avoid discussing the dog bite incident or your injuries on social media platforms. Information shared online can be used against you in legal proceedings, so it’s best to exercise caution and discretion regarding what you post.

Know Your Legal Rights

Understand your legal rights as a dog bite victim. Virginia law holds dog owners responsible for injuries caused by their pets. A Virginia personal injury attorney can help you navigate the legal aspects and determine whether you have a viable claim.

Remember that every dog bite case is unique, and the steps you should take may vary depending on the circumstances. Seeking medical attention and legal advice promptly is always essential. By taking these steps, you can prioritize your health, protect your rights, and seek appropriate compensation for your injuries and damages as a dog bite victim.