Imagine that you’re on a walk and pass by a cute and cuddly dog. You may want to stop and pet it or maybe you just continue walking.
But then, before you know it, the dog snaps and bites you. Hard.
You’re hurt, scared, and unsure of what to do next.
Dog bites can happen for a variety of reasons, such as a reactive dog, resource hoarding, rough play, or simply a protective drive.
Unfortunately, dog bites can also occur at the hands of a poorly trained dog or a negligent owner.
If you or someone you love is unlucky enough to be in a canine-related accident, you may be in shock and wondering what to do if you are bitten by a dog.
Read on to learn about the next steps following a dog bite, including first aid, professional medical care, and potential legal action. In certain situations, you may want to seek a dog bite lawyer.
Immediate First Steps
If you’ve been bitten by a dog hard enough to break the skin, your biggest concern should be preventing infection.
The very first thing that you’ll want to do is immediately wash the wound with mild soap and warm water. Be sure to wash the wound for at least 5 minutes. Additionally, you can use any wound wash or medical spray that you may have on hand.
If the wound is still bleeding after it has been washed, make sure to keep pressure on the wound with a towel or piece of cloth.
Then, you’ll want to bandage the wound. The best way to do this would be to wrap it in medical gauze.
If the injury is minor, simply keep the wound wrapped and change the dressing every few days until it heals completely.
Among the panic that you may be experiencing in the wake of this incident, you may forget to gather any information about the dog attack. However, this step is especially necessary if you’ve been attacked by a dog that is unknown to you.
For one, make sure to photograph the injury. These photos may be relevant later on if you choose to pursue legal action.
Yet, this is not the only reason to gather information from the dog’s owner. Learning more about the dog that attacked you can actually be relevant to your medical treatment and can help a medical professional treat you appropriately.
You definitely want to get the dog owner’s name and contact information and note the date, time, and location of the incident. You may also want to get the contact information of potential witnesses. You’ll also need to know if the dog has all of its vaccines.
Then, before seeking further medical care, be sure to gather information about your own medical history and vaccine record.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Although the majority of dog bites are minor and do not require additional medical care, here are some signs that you may need to see a doctor. One instance in which you should always seek professional medical care is if the wound is on your face, neck, or other sensitive areas.
If the wound is extremely deep, large, or painful, you should also go to the emergency room.
If the wound bleeds excessively or after several days seems swollen and irritated, these are also signs to seek immediate care.
Infections from dog bites generally occur after one or more days, so be sure to check on your injury for any changes, even if it initially appears minor.
Consider Taking Legal Action
While some canine bite incidents are completely unavoidable, others are the result of negligence on the part of the owner. Especially if your injury is severe enough to warrant significant medical expenses, you should be compensated for those bills at the bare minimum.
There are several types of damages that you could be compensated for, medical bills being only one. You may also be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, damaged property, or loss of income if your injury prevents you from working.
Specific laws regarding pet-related injuries may vary from locality to locality; therefore, working with a personal injury lawyer can help you determine what next steps to take.
Besides, gathering evidence will help you later if you decide to turn to a lawyer. An experienced dog bite attorney will guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Concern for the Dog
While you may be concerned that instigating legal action may be detrimental to the dog and may result in negative consequences, this is usually not the case.
Many bites are simply one-off instances, and dogs with no prior history of causing injury to others will not face any major consequences.
If a dog does have a track record of violence, it may receive a designation as a violent dog and may need to be registered as such. This may limit their ability to be in public.
However, these situations are the best for everyone. The dog will be prevented from hurting others and can even be placed in the hands of owners who are more capable of providing appropriate training to the dog.
What to Do if You Are Bitten by a Dog
If you’re in the terrible situation of wondering what to do if you are bitten by a dog, the most important thing to do is to keep calm. For a severe attack, please call 911 or immediately go to your nearest emergency medical care center.
Otherwise, remember to prioritize caring for the wound, gather information about the incident, and seek professional medical care if it becomes necessary.
After immediate medical needs have been cared for, consider if it would be appropriate to contact a dog bite lawyer, as you may be entitled to compensation after a dog bite.
Dog bite injuries can be dangerous, costly, and above all else, frightening. If you have dogs in your life, be sure to be prepared for an unfortunate accident at any moment.