When a walk in the park is anything but serene, you may need to act fast. A dog bite might only be minor but it still deserves your attention. When you get bit, the owner of the dog may be financially responsible for your expenses and damages as a result. To find out why acting quickly is so important with a dog bite, read on.
Many people have heard the term "one bite free" when it comes to dog bites. This way of looking at pet owner responsibility varies by the state. In some, the owners are only responsible for the injuries their dog causes if they have reason to believe that the dog is capable of biting. In other states, the owner is responsible for dog bite injuries regardless of the dog's previous behavior.
Regardless of how bad a victim is bitten, problems can occur. Severe bites can cause victims to suffer from painful surgeries and months of rehabilitation. Unfortunately, even minor bites can cause victims to become seriously ill because of the bacteria dogs (and cats) carry in their mouths. This bacteria, capnocytophaga canimorsus, has been known to cause severe infections, sometimes leading to gangrene and amputations. The elderly, the very young, and those with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable to this bacteria. Other medical issues that go beyond the bite itself are:
- Salmonella poisoning.
- Toxocariasis canis – A parasite that can lead to intestinal worms in humans.
- Scars from the bite wound.
The sooner you seek medical attention for a dog bite, the greater your chances for recovering from it with as few permanent reminders as possible. Additionally, seeking medical treatment strengthens your case against the dog owner.
How to Take Action After a Dog Bite
Follow these tips to ensure that you can recover your damages from the dog's owner:
- Call the police and file a report about the bite.
- Alert the local animal enforcement agency of the bite, as many cities impose fines and other punishments on owners who allow their dogs to roam and hurt people.
- Learn the dog owner's name, address, and phone number.
- Take photographs of your injuries and, if possible, the dog.
- Seek medical treatment and keep all receipts.
- Keep up with any time missed from work due to the injury.
- If any personal possessions were damaged, note the value (dropped cell phone, ruined sneakers, torn pants, etc).
- Finally, speak to a personal injury attorney at your earliest convenience.