What to Do After a Dog Bite
Dog bite injuries are relatively common in California. According to State Farm Insurance, California was the number one state for dog-related insurance claims in 2020, with 402 claims that paid $26.1 million to victims. If you get injured in a dog attack in California, take the following steps to protect yourself and pursue fair financial compensation for your related losses and expenses.
Remain Calm and Protect Yourself
First, do your best to remain calm. Although a dog attack can be a frightening and traumatic event, try to avoid panicking. Remaining calm can help deescalate the situation by calming the dog to prevent further injury. It can also prevent altercations with the pet owner. Always put your personal safety and wellbeing first. Get to a safe place away from the dog before you assess your injuries and exchange information. If your injuries constitute an emergency, call 911 immediately for help.
Get the Owner’s Information
If the dog is not a stray and the pet owner or controller is known, write down this person’s full name, phone number, address and insurance information. You will need this information to hold the owner financially responsible (liable) for your expenses later. It can also be helpful to get more information about the dog from the pet owner, such as its rabies vaccination status.
Talk to Eyewitnesses
If anyone at the scene witnessed the dog attack, get their contact information for a statement later. Signed statements from eyewitnesses can help you prove your case against a pet owner during a personal injury lawsuit, if necessary. It can also help you achieve financial compensation from the pet owner’s insurance company by providing evidence.
Receive Immediate Medical Care
Always get professional medical care for a dog bite injury, even if your injury appears minor. A physician can administer important medications, such as a rabies shot or antibacterial ointment, to prevent serious animal-borne diseases and infections. Professional medical care can also minimize the amount of permanent scarring or disfigurement that you experience because of a dog bite injury.
Report the Bite to Animal Control
In California, any dog bite incident is legally reportable. It is important to report the bite to animal control authorities in your county so that they can take steps to protect the public, if necessary, such as classifying the animal as a dangerous dog. This will come with additional requirements for the pet owner to prevent further attacks. If you get bitten by a dog in Los Angeles, report the bite to the County of Los Angeles Public Health Department and the Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control Center.
Document the Event and Your Losses
Documentation is key after a dog bite injury. Documenting the event can allow you to hold the pet owner accountable, recover fair compensation for your bills and protect your legal rights. If you can, take pictures of any relevant evidence that is at the scene, such as a broken leash or hole in a fence. Take photographs of your injuries and continue to document the changes as they heal. After receiving medical care, request copies of your medical records. Document the effects of your injuries, such as by keeping a written journal of how your injuries and the emotional distress of the event have impacted your life.
Call the Owner’s Insurance Company
Start your dog bite injury case by calling the pet owner’s homeowners insurance company to file a claim. Most homeowners insurance policies cover dog bite injuries. If the dog that bit you was in the owner’s vehicle, call the owner’s automobile insurance company instead. When speaking to an insurance claims adjuster about your case, keep your answers concise. Do not admit any fault for the incident, such as trespassing or provoking the dog.
Consult With a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
Before you accept a fast settlement, consult with a Los Angeles dog bite lawyer about your rights. You may need a lawyer’s assistance to fight for fair compensation for your dog bite injuries. An attorney can help you go up against an insurance claims adjuster to pursue the amount that you need to move forward.