Dog ownership is rising during the COVID-19 pandemic, which also means that dog bites and attacks are on the rise, especially against children. Statistics show that children suffer 40 percent of dog bite injuries that require emergency medical care, according to a recent report. State Farm Insurance Company also reports a general increase in dog bite injury claims, including a 21.6 percent jump for March 2020 compared to the preceding year.
Consequently, everyone should know what to do after a dog bite or attack. If you or your family member suffered from injuries after a dog bite, take the following five steps to preserve your health and legal rights:
Step 1. Get Immediate Medical Attention
Priority number one is seeking medical help after a dog bite or attack. Depending upon your level of injury, you might not be able to complete subsequent steps without someone's assistance. Dog bites can be severe and, unfortunately, are sometimes fatal. In many cases, a dog bite can leave permanent physical scarring as well as mental scars long after the injuries heal.
They can also create a host of health problems, including:
- Bacterial infections
- Bone fractures
- Muscle damage
- Nerve damage
- PTSD/mental distress (post-traumatic stress disorder)
Upon release from the hospital, ensure that you follow your doctor's orders closely. Not only will you support a healthy recovery, but the insurance company will not have a chance to blame you for making the injuries worse.
Step 2. Contact Your Local Police Department
After a dog attack, most local ordinances in New York and New Jersey require you to file a police report. It is also your opportunity to create a formal record of the event through the eyes of law enforcement. The police will investigate the dog attack and record the name and address of the dog owner. You should obtain a copy of the police report as soon as possible, as it will help in filing a claim with the dog owner's insurance company.
Topics that police address when filing a dog attack report include the following:
- Date and time of the attack
- Attack location
- Names of parties involved
- Name and address/license of the dog owner
- Events leading up to the attack
- Events of the attack
- Property damage
- Eyewitness information
- Other relevant details
Police will likely contact animal control on your behalf. However, you may want to follow up with them if they have any questions or when confirming that the police reported the animal in the first place. You do not want to derail your insurance claim by creating unnecessary delays.
Regardless of whom you speak with, whether police or animal control, stick to the facts and avoid speculation about the surrounding events. Insurance companies can use self-incriminating or out-of-context statements from these reports against you later.
You will also want to obtain any eyewitness identification and information, so that your attorney can contact witnesses who observed
Step 3. Maintain Records and Evidence
Whether you suffer from a serious bite or a scratch, documenting your injuries is a crucial piece of evidence in your legal case. Take photos and video evidence as soon as possible after the accident. If you have serious lacerations, take photos of your injuries. If you receive stitches or have permanent scarring, take photos of scars as well. If your daily activities are significantly impaired, gather evidence of how the injury is impacting your life.
You should also retain copies of receipts, invoices, statements, reports, letters, and related medical documents. This information will help you recall information in the future or serve as evidence during your case, if you ultimate take your case to court.
Step 4. Contact the Dog's Owner and Insurance Carrier
You should immediately retain an experienced dog bite attorney to assist you in making your claim and obtaining a recovery to which you are entitled. Your attorney will contact the dog's owner. It is very common that the dog owner's homeowner's insurance will cover dog bite attacks. If so, your attorney will put the dog owner and their homeowner's insurance carrier on notice of your dog bite claim. The homeowner's insurance company may even provide reimbursement for medical expenses.
In addition, the local animal control agency may be contacted and they may conduct their own investigation into the dog bite attack as well. Write down the name and badge number of the operator or animal control officer assigned to your case.
The animal control officer will conduct a report on the dog concerning:
- Vaccination history
- Owner's name
- Owner's address
Step 5. Contact a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
Dog attack injuries can be serious and medical bills can accumulate substantially. Because of the severity of the typical dog bite, permanent damage, including scarring and disfigurement, is very common. However, insurance companies often attempt to underpay dog bite victims and offer much less compensation than is warranted. It is important to hire an experienced dog bite attorney so that you are not taken advantage of by the insurance companies.
You may be entitled to a recovery for the following types of damages:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages and benefits
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish/PTSD
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Wrongful death and survival action awards
- Lost enjoyment of your life
An experienced dog bite injury lawyer can ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
Ensure that you have a professional in your corner with a breadth of experience in handling dog bite cases. We can explain your rights and options while building your case throughout the process.
Final Thoughts and Considerations
Dog attacks are traumatic experiences. You have every right to hold the owner or city accountable for their negligence.
However, relevant laws apply to your situation and affect the result, including compensation rules and different dog bite laws in different states. Your best option for receiving the compensation you deserve is consulting with an experienced dog bite lawyer for legal advice and help.
Hunt & Associates Represents Dog Attack Victims
Hunt & Associates, LLC protects dog bite and attack injury victims. If you have been injured, please contact us for a Free, No Obligation Case Evaluation at (866) 456-HUNT or send us a message online. There are no attorneys' fees and we do not get paid unless we recover compensation for you.
Hablamos Español o puedes contactarnos aquí.