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What to do after a dog bite or attack

Most of us have pets in our lives that we care about deeply, dogs being one of the most popular. However, it's important to remember that dogs are still animals and they can do a lot of damage if they decide to attack, especially when children are the targets.

About 1,000 people require emergency medical care each day in the U.S. because of dog bites, according to the Agency For Health Care Research and Quality.

The injuries often involve puncture wounds to the skin and lacerations to the face or body. These attacks cause physical and emotional scarring that never goes away, in many cases.

Steps to take after a dog bite or attack

1. Get the name of the dog owner and any witnesses.

The moments after a dog attack can be very stressful and scary, and you probably just want to get out of there more than anything else.

However, it's important to get the contact information from the dog owner (if you don't already have it) as well as the names and contact information for any witnesses that saw the attack.

2. Take pictures of the wounds.

Unless there is absolutely no time, it's important to get pictures of the wounds caused by the attack before they are treated.

3. Get medical treatment.

Superficial wounds can be treated a home with a first aid kit. However, more serious wounds require a trip to the doctor. It's important to visit the doctor not only to have the wounds treated properly, but to also have the wounds documented for insurance purposes.

If the dog is unfamiliar:

If you don't know the dog or whether the dog has been vaccinated for rabies, then it's important to contact animal control right away and do not attempt to hold or capture the dog. Animal control will capture the dog and get it tested.

4. Report the attack to animal control.

If you haven't already, call animal control to report the attack. Animal control will conduct an investigation into the incident.

When do I need to call a lawyer?

If you were attacked by a stray dog, there is little that a lawyer will be able to do. However, if you were attacked by a dog (or another wild animal) that is kept by someone, then the owner may owe you compensation for medical bills (including cosmetic surgery now or in the future), lost wages, and pain and suffering that was caused by the attack.

A lawyer can help make sure that you get the compensation that you are entitled to.

Is the dog owner personally liable for the damages?

In many cases, the dog owner's homeowners' insurance provider will be responsible for compensating you. That means you typically do not have to go after the dog owner, personally, for compensation.

Of course, insurance companies have teams of lawyers on their side that attempt to limit claims like these, so you will need your own lawyer to get you what you deserve.

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