Toxic Exposures Blog

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What To Do In the Event of a Dog Bite

Published by Web Editor

Dogs are often considered a human’s best friend, and many people even refer to them as their “furry children.” However, this isn’t always the case. Alarmingly, over 885,000 dog bites require medical attention annually, with more than 4.5 million occurring each year. These incidents not only result in significant financial burdens, such as medical expenses and lost wages, but also inflict a substantial emotional and mental toll on the victims. So, what can you do if a dog bites you?

Tips To Avoid Getting Bitten by a Dog

First and foremost, always ask permission before petting a dog. Additionally, avoid eye contact and confrontation with unfamiliar dogs. Remember not to disturb a dog while it’s sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies. Furthermore, teach children how to interact with dogs safely. Lastly, do not approach an unfamiliar dog.

What Should I Do After a Dog Bite?

After a dog bites you, you must take immediate steps to ensure your health and safety. First, clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection. Then, apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage to stop the bleeding. Even minor bites can become serious if untreated, so visit a doctor or go to the emergency room for professional care. After receiving medical care, monitor the wound for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus. Taking these steps promptly can help mitigate the risk of complications and ensure proper healing. After receiving proper medical attention, gather information about the dog, including:

  • Who owns the dog? Is it your dog, a dog of someone you know, or a stray dog?
  • Are the dog’s vaccines up to date?
  • Can someone observe the dog for several days after the bite and watch for signs of rabies?

Additionally, you will want to know the day and time of the injury, the location of the bite(s), the force of the bite, your medical history, and your last tetanus shot. If you need help in getting any of these steps done, please consult a personal injury lawyer to make these actions as easy and comfortable as possible.

Who Is Most At Risk for Dog Bites?

Statistically, children are the most at risk for dog attacks. They often don’t know how to interpret warning signs of aggression, lack knowledge on how to interact with dogs, are smaller in size compared to dogs, and are more likely to make sudden movements and loud noises. These factors explain why around 50% of dog bites occur to children under the age of 14 and highlight the importance of teaching children how to interact with dogs safely.

What Complications Could Result From a Dog Bite?

Dog bites can lead to several complications, highlighting the importance of taking them seriously. Symptoms of dog bites include pain, bleeding, numbness, and tingling. These symptoms can also lead to:

  • Infections
    • Bacterial Infections: Dog mouths harbor various bacteria such as Pasteurella, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus, which can cause serious infections if the wound is not properly cleaned and treated.
    • Tetanus: Though rare, dog bites can transmit tetanus, a potentially fatal bacterial infection.
    • Cellulitis: A bacterial skin infection that can spread to deeper tissues.
  • Rabies
    • Rabies is a viral infection that is almost always fatal once symptoms appear. Therefore, it’s crucial to verify the vaccination status of the dog and seek immediate medical attention if there’s any risk of rabies.
  • Nerve Damage
    • Bites can cause damage to nerves, resulting in pain, numbness, or loss of function in the affected area.
  • Disfigurement
    • Severe bites can lead to significant scarring and disfigurement, especially if they occur on the face or other visible areas.
  • Emotional Trauma
    • Dog bites can lead to psychological effects such as anxiety, fear of dogs, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), particularly in children.

What Compensation Could I Possibly Be Entitled To?

You may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including:

  • Wage Losses
    • Wages lost from missing work or limiting the amount of work you can do may entitle you to compensation.
  • Medical Bills
    • Medical bills incurred as a direct or indirect result of the dog bite may entitle you to compensation.
  • Pain and Suffering
    • Mental, physical, or emotional pain resulting from the dog bite may entitle you to compensation.
  • Property Damages
    • Damages to property that occurred as a result of a dog bite may entitle you to compensation.

Please consult a personal injury lawyer to best find out what type(s) of compensation that you may be entitled to.

Who Is Liable?

Liability for dog bites varies by state. In Illinois, the state imposes a strict liability rule. This means that the dog’s owner is liable for any injuries caused by their animal, regardless of whether the owner was negligent or could have prevented the attack. Even in a strict liability state, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, the court might not hold the owner liable if the victim was trespassing on private property at the time of the bite, if the dog was purposefully provoked by the victim, if the dog was acting in self-defense or defending its owner, if the victim was abusing the dog or its offspring, or if the dog was in the care of someone other than the owner at the time of the bite.

If you believe that you or a loved one has suffered from any complications as a result of a dog bite, you may be entitled to compensation. Please contact us today at Gianaris Trial Lawyers for a free consultation.

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