Much like a car accident, the most important step to take when bitten by a dog is to obtain the contact information for the dog and the owner. Obtaining this information may be vital to the treatment and recovery of the wound. Of course, being bitten by a dog can be very traumatic, but if you do not know the owner or the dog, getting this information before leaving the scene will have huge advantages when seeking medical attention.
In tandem with obtaining this important information, you must of course tend to the wound. If the wound is small, clean it with warm water and soap, and seek medical attention as soon as possible. If the wound is large or bleeding heavily, wrap it in a sterile or clean cloth, apply pressure, and seek immediate medical attention.
If you are able to do so, take pictures of the wound, the dog, and the scene of the bite as soon after the bite as possible. These can become key tools for any future insurance claims or lawsuits.
If the wound is serious and you will be making an insurance claim and/or a personal injury claim against the dog owner, you will want to call your local police and/or animal control departments to file a bite report. Report the attack and obtain a copy of a report, or at least a report number. Document the injury through photos, and keep records of any medical attention sought in relation to the bite.
California is a strict liability state where dog bites are concerned, which means that a dog’s owner is strictly liable for any dog bite from the moment ownership of the dog begins. (California Civil Code §3342). Any person who takes on ownership of a dog, also takes on the responsibility for all actions of the dog. There are a few exceptions to this rule; strict liability is not assumed when the victim was trespassing, provoking the dog, injured by his employer’s dog while on the job, or performing a paid service involving the dog. And there are certain laws that apply to young children bitten by dogs.
An experienced attorney can assist you not only with the insurance claims process for recovery of medical costs, but also with any injury claims you may bring against the dog owner for the injury.
Ready to move forward? Contact Andrew Ritholz to learn more about the many legal options available to you if you’ve been bitten by a dog.