When dogs attack and bite people, it is typically shocking to both victims and pet owners. Taking action immediately following an encounter, for example gathering information about the dog and its owner and seeking medical care, can help to prevent further harm and injury to victims. In addition, in strict liability states like California, victims should file legal claims against dog owners and their homeowner's insurance providers to cover their dog bite-related medical expenses and pain and suffering under the state's dog bite statutes.
Know Dog Bites Happen
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states about 4.5 million dog bites occur annually. In addition, emergency rooms around the U.S. log around 885,000, or 1 in 5, cases where victims of dog bites seek medical attention each year. Many victims are children and adult males. According to State Farm insurance statistics, California had the highest number of dog bites in the nation in 2010 with 369 claims filed. On average, State Farm paid $30,000 per settlement, which cost the company over $11 million in payouts.
Be Ready to Act
Immediately following a dog bite, dog owners or witnesses should secure the aggressive dog and get victims to a safe location. Victims or witnesses should gather information about the dog and its owner before anyone leaves the scene, including rabies vaccination status and owner contact numbers, and call any law enforcement or emergency medical personnel. If the dog is a stray, it should be held until an animal control agency arrives. Victims should stop any bleeding, try to keep their bite wounds clean and elevated and seek medical care.
Seek Medical Treatment
To be on the safe side and limit any further consequences or infection from dog bite injuries, victims should seek medical treatment. While the bite may leave obvious skin abrasions and puncture injuries, there may be more serious harm under the surface, which could include muscle, tendon, nerve or bone damage. Emergency medical treatment is especially important for dog bite victims like infants and children, who can sustain more severe injuries than adults. Rabies and tetanus injections may also need to be administered.
File Your Dog Bite Claim
According to California dog bite statutes, dog owners are strictly liable for the injuries of any people their dogs bite, whether in public or private places, even if this is the dog's first attack. Some dogs are more aggressive than others, like Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, Chows and German Shepherds, but people should be cautious around all types of dogs to avoid possible attacks or bites. If a bite does occur, however, know that you have a right to recover for things like medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages under California law.
If you or your loved one was recently bitten by a dog and sustained significant injuries to the skin, head or face, or internal damage to nerves, tendons or bones, contact a California personal injury attorney with experience litigating dog bite cases today to discuss your case.