What Should You Do Immediately After a Dog Bite?
You go out for a walk and pass by your neighbor’s yard, and somehow, without warning, it happens. Before you even realize what is going on, you hear a growl or a bark, and suddenly a dog has attacked you. This kind of incident can be terrifying and traumatizing, and unfortunately happens all too often. In 2019, there were nearly 18,000 dog bite claims in the United States, with around 1500 claims filed between New Jersey and Pennsylvania alone.
No matter how your attack occurred, you need to take immediate steps to treat your wounds and reduce the risk of infection. Your first call should be to a medical care provider to receive immediate treatment. After that, you will likely want to consider your legal options for holding the owner of the dog accountable. Finding a competent Pennsylvania Dog Bite Lawyer can help you get the compensation you may deserve
What Medical Treatment is Necessary After a Dog Bite?
The large front teeth of a dog can grab and compress the tissue of your skin, while their smaller back teeth simultaneously tear your skin away. These injuries result in open, jagged wounds that are prone to infection. Hospitalizations and the need for IV antibiotics are not uncommon after dog bites, and you will need to seek medical care within a minimum of 8 hours after being attacked. Waiting any longer greatly raises your risk of infection.
Immediately after the attack, take these steps to help prevent infection:
- Wash the wound
- Stop or slow the bleeding
- Apply an antibiotic cream to the injury
- Wrap the injury in a sterile bandage, changing often
- Watch for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, fever, or increased pain.
Your doctor may recommend a tetanus shot, especially if the wound is dirty or your last shot was over five years ago.
Premises Liability and Dog Bites
All property owners and businesses are required to provide what is known as a “duty of care” to those legally on their property. This means they are required to provide a safe environment for anyone on the property, including keeping dogs secure. If the owner is negligent in keeping their dog secure, they may be liable for any injuries it causes, under premises liability laws.
Dogs are considered an attractive nuisance under premises liability. While adults do not need specific warnings to avoid unfamiliar dogs, children who do not yet understand that they shouldn’t interact with a strange dog may try to pet or play with them. If a property owner can reasonably expect that children might be on their premises and they do not secure their dog, the dog can be considered an attractive nuisance that the owner did not take care of. This is similar to a property owner not putting up a fence around their pool.
What Types of Dog Bites Can Become Personal Injury Cases?
Just because a dog bit you does not mean you have solid standing to bring a personal injury case. You will need to prove several things in order to bring a case, such as:
- The attack happened on public property
- The attack happened on private property, and you had a right to be there
- The dog’s owner failed to secure the dog on its property
This means that if you are trespassing on someone’s land, it will be difficult to pursue a dog bite claim as you were not lawfully on the owner’s property.
Likewise, if the dog owner has turned over care to you for their dog (such as if you are dog sitting or a veterinarian that is caring for the dog), they are likely not going to be liable for any injuries you sustained. The exception to this is if the owner knew the dog was vicious and failed to disclose this information to you. You can help prove this by finding information on previous attacks the dog may have made.
How to Bring a Successful Dog Bite Claim
Photographs of your injuries, combined with medical records and expert medical testimony can help prove the extent and cause of your injuries after a dog bite attack. A team of skilled attorneys can help you compile the evidence you need to prove your case, and help you receive fair compensation for your medical bills and pain and suffering due to the attack.