I Was Bitten By A Dog...What Should I Do?

The first thing you should do after being bitten by a dog is contact the nearest local police department and animal control unit. They will be properly trained in dealing with dangerous dogs and will investigate the incident, which may include taking statements from the parties involved and any witnesses to the attack. I Was Bitten By A Dog...What Should I Do?

What Are My Legal Rights After A Dog Bite?

The proper authorities will also likely be able to help you find out the identity and location of the dog's owner, which is a very important step for victims who want to pursue a personal injury claim against the owner(s). Then, they will also be able to help you file a dog bite report with the proper police department, which will document the attack and create a paper trail so that authorities can adequately enforce the law.

In all instances, it is absolutely necessary for all dog bite victims to seek medical attention for any and all injuries they may have suffered as a result of the dog bite. This is important because it not only ensures that your injuries are properly diagnosed and treated, but also because of the importance of medical evidence when it comes to pursuing a personal injury claim. It may even be beneficial for you (or the healthcare provider you choose to visit) to take photographs of your injuries that can later be used as evidence to support a personal injury claim.

Document Your Dog Bite Injuries

One of the best ways to document your injuries is to take frequent photos during the recovery phase. Often dog bites cause permanent scarring, so the photos may be the best way to show it. 

You should also receive prompt medical attention so a healthcare professional can record the wound and recommend further treatment. Another concern is disease and/or infection caused from dog bites. You’ll want to know whether a Rabies shot is necessary, and the only way to determine this is to find out if the dog responsible for attacking you is carrying any diseases or infections.

What Are My Legal Rights After A Dog Bite?When it comes to pursuing a dog bite injury claim, the two most crucial steps to take immediately after the attack are:

  1. Seek medical attention and document all injuries and medical conditions that may potentially be attributed to the dog bite or attack.
  2. Take down contact information for all possible responsible parties, including dog owner, homeowner, and any information regarding homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance. Taking down the dog's name is typically also helpful.

Depending upon the severity of the injury, you may also want to consult with an experienced dog bite lawyer in your area to learn more about your legal rights. A qualified attorney can help you determine if you might benefit from legal representation for your dog bite case, or if you may be able to resolve the claim on your own, without the assistance of an attorney. 

Seek Compensation For Medical Bills And Other Expenses

In Washington State, there is a law that imposes strict liability (i.e., absolute responsibility regardless of the circumstances) for bites against the animal’s owner.

In most situations, the homeowner's insurance policy would be the primary source of financial recovery for a dog bite case. The requirement is that the bite occur on public property - or on private property with the owner’s consent - and that the animal was not provoked.

In other situations, the dog owner may be liable if you can show that the owner knew his/her dog had aggressive or violent tendencies but failed to quarantine the animal or protect people it came in contact with, or if the owner had knowledge that the animal had previously bitten another person.

For dog bites that result in serious, long-term injuries, the injury victim may benefit from consulting with a personal injury attorney who has experience in handling dog bite claims. A lawyer who has experience in this area of the law will be better suited to identify the many complex issues that may arise throughout the personal injury legal process.

Chris Davis
Award-winning personal injury attorney and founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, Washington.