Dog may be man’s best friend, but unfortunately sometimes dogs attack people and when they do, they have the ability to cause severe injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 4.7 million dog bites in the United States every year.
So what should you do if you’ve been injured because of a dog attack? Follow these five steps to ensure your own health and safety as well as the future health and safety of your community.
- Seek medical attention immediately. If the injury is very severe, call 911 or head to the emergency room right away. Otherwise, clean any wounds with soap and water and apply topical antibiotics. Be sure to use sterile bandages and get to a doctor as soon as possible. Dog bites are often prone to infection so it’s important to get ahead of the problem.
- Immediately report the attack to the police and the local animal warden. It’s essential to get the incident on record. An officer may issue a citation to the dog’s owner, and it is important to disclose as much information about the attack as possible. Describe the circumstances of the incident, the dog and its handler – Where did the attack occur? What was the dog’s behavior prior to the attack? Was the dog off leash? Who witnessed the attack? Are you aware of any prior problems with the dog? – This information will provide an important record in your case. Your local animal warden will determine whether or not the dog has rabies or another dangerous, communicable disease that may affect the health of the bite victim.
- Keep records of your injuries, treatments, and expenses. A picture is worth a thousand words and when it comes to a wound, it’s important to document what that damage looks like throughout the healing process. If you have scarring, that should be documented as well. Additionally, any doctor’s appointments or medical expenses need to be kept and tracked. This will allow your legal team to better assess the damages owed in your case.
- Get contact information from witnesses to the incident, especially if they are bystanders you don’t know. Make sure you also have the dog’s owner, and the property owner’s contact information. You will need this for any police report and legal actions that you may wish to take down the road. The phrase, “owner, keeper or harborer” comes from a statute in Ohio law outlining who may be responsible for the actions of a dog. Generally, a “keeper” is the individual in physical control of the dog at the time of the incident and a “harborer” is the person who controls the property where the dog resides. Any of the three parties can be potentially liable in a dog bite lawsuit.
- Talk to a dog bite attorney as soon as possible. Dog owners in the state of Ohio are responsible by law for injury or damage done by their dogs, whether that be a bite, property damage or some other kind of harm. The sooner you approach a lawyer regarding your case, the better chance they have of preserving important evidence. Even if your case is well documented, the passage of time can weaken your claim. Additionally, there is a statute of limitations for filing a dog bite lawsuit in the state of Ohio – two years from the date that the bite occurred.
Following these five steps will ensure that you get the care you need after a dog bite and will ensure that any future legal action you choose to pursue will be backed up with accurate records of the incident and all parties involved.
If you or someone you love has been a victim of a dog bite, contact Lowe Eklund Wakefield for a free legal consultation. A dog bite attorney with our firm will advise you about your case and can provide next steps you can take to pursue legal recourse.
Check out the video below for more advice from partner attorney Ryan Fisher on how to proceed if you've been attacked by a dog. Plus, get a peak at guest star Murray Fisher, Ryan's family dog.