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A practical guide to follow if you've been bitten by a dog or a pet animal

Being attacked by a dog or a pet animal can be a frightening and traumatic experience and in the aftermath of the event you may not know what to do or how to seek help. Nonetheless, it's better to think ahead of time about when you may have to file a dog bite lawsuit or an insurance claim against a pet owner.

Whether it is a family pet or a wild animal; scratches, and bites can carry diseases along with many bacterias from the animal's mouth that can get into your body causing an infection. This is why we want to give you a practical guide of steps to follow if a dog or a pet animal has bitten you.

1. Before the attack: Is it possible to prevent getting bit?

We know that on a daily basis, you can find yourself in unexpected situations, especially when it comes to external agents such as dogs and other animals that require an immediate reaction and may have possible long-term consequences. However, here are some tips to help you prevent these situations:

  • Don't approach an unfamiliar dog.

  • Ask for permission before petting someone else’s dog.

  • Don't approach the dog if the owner says not to.

Cross the street or wait until the dog or animal has crossed to avoid being near them.

2. Immediately after the attack

  • Call your local animal control center and report the attack.

  • If animal control thinks police should get involved, you should seek their help next.

  • Seek medical attention even if your injuries are minor. Having medical documentation increases significantly your possibility of receiving compensation.

  • Take pictures at the moment of the attack, even videos of the scene and the dog or animal.

  • Get the owner's information. Ask for insurance information or try to get their name and number.

  • Hold on to the evidence. You might get items that have been damaged during the attack.

  • Don't give statements if the dog owner's insurance company reaches out to you.

  • Call your Lawyer. If the dog bite has resulted in severe injury or property damage, let an experienced dog bite lawyer handle the situation.

3. After the attack: How to properly attend to your wounds

  • Wash the wound thoroughly to prevent infections.

  • If you have not had a tetanus vaccine in the last 5 years, you may need to have one to reduce the risk.

  • If your healthcare provider is concerned the animal can spread rabies you'll need a series of rabies shots.

  • If the bite or scratch wound is bleeding apply pressure to the area with a clean bandage or towel.

  • If the bleeding is not heavy you can clean it with soap and water.

  • Dry the wound, apply an antibiotic, and cover it with sterile gauze.

  • Call your doctor if the bite punctured the skin, even if the area is small.

When is the time to seek urgent medical care?

  • If your wound is on your face, hand, foot, neck o near a joint.

  • If after 10 minutes of direct pressure, the wound won't stop bleeding.

  • If your wound is deep, large, or severe.

  • If you were attacked by a wild animal or with strange behavior.

  • If the wound has pus coming from it, becomes red, swollen, or increasingly painful.

  • If you have a weak immune system or a special medical condition.

  • If your wound feels warm.

  • If you have a fever.

And finally, keep in mind…

  • Kids are among the most prone to being bitten, teach them to stay away from wild animals and not to tease or provoke even family pets, animals should not be disturbed while they eat or sleep.

  • If you're a pet owner, make sure it’s properly immunized.

  • Make sure you get treated for any infection symptoms: fever, swelling, and heat at the site of the bite.

  • Bites on the face or mouth are especially risky and should be treated properly to prevent tooth decay or gum diseases.

  • When the bite is on fingers and hands is also dangerous, we are in the presence of blood, vessels, nerves, and muscles that can present irreversible damage.

  • Quick treatment can minimize long-term damage, either for infectious bacteria or for wounds that may lead to visible scarring.

Most states in the US have liability dog-bite laws to make owners financially responsible for dog bites and you can seek justice with the help of a dog bite defense attorney. At Hamblen Injury Law we are a skilled legal representation firm that will assist you in holding the responsible parties accountable and being properly compensated for all damages.


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