Dog Bite Injuries: Dos & Donts
Getting bit by a dog can be a very traumatic experience – as any dog bite victim can attest to. After the initial shock of the experience has subsided, it’s important not only to protect your health – but also your rights.
Do’s & Don’ts
We asked Steve Recordon, a California attorney with nearly 30 years of experience whose practice represents individuals who have been injured by dog bites, what dog bite victims should – and shouldn’t do after being bitten. Here’s what he told us in a recent interview:
- Seek medical attention.The first thing that any dog bite victim should do is get medical attention.
- Contact the dog’s owner and animal control.Contact the dog’s owner, get a name and address and check for rabies vaccinations. I also think they need to contact animal control. The reason I like my clients to contact animal control, and I’ll do it for them, is that animal control keeps records on dogs. So, if a dog has bitten someone, then I want them to at least know what’s happened. Some victims are reluctant to do so because if they were bit by a neighbor’s dog, they’re afraid that the dog might be put down and it would end up ruining the relationship they have with that neighbor. However, that’s not always the case – especially where strict liability is not involved.
- Get insurance information.Get the name of the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance company, if they have insurance.
- Take pictures.Take pictures of the injuries and perhaps the dog as well because if the case ends up going to trial, you want to be able to show what the dog looks like because a lot of people have dogs as pets and their mental picture of a dog may be a lot different than a Pit Bull standing there with his teeth bared.
- Contact witnesses. Finally, I would also recommend getting the names, phone numbers and addresses of any witnesses. You’re going to want witness statements so that you’ve got an accurate record, as close in time as possible to the dog bite, of exactly what these witnesses saw. This is something your attorney can do.
- Don’t discuss the case.Don’t discuss the case, give a recorded statement or discuss settlements with the insurance adjustor. You have to understand that the insurance adjustor is there representing the insurance company; he’s not there trying to pay out as much as he can to someone that’s been injured.
- Don’t assume the dog is healthy. In many cases, the dog should really be quarantined to determine whether or not it has rabies. If it does, the victim may or may not have to go through a series of very painful rabies vaccinations. Only the doctor is going to be able to determine whether or not the individual has to go through those series of shots. So, getting a history on the dog is very important. It can also affect liability. If the dog owners knew of the rabies and allowed the dog to be in a position to bite somebody, then punitive damages might be awarded.
If you’ve been injured due to a dog bite, contact an attorney whose practice focuses in this area of law to discuss your situation. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.