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Five Steps to Take If a Dog Bites You

In 2021, 13,827 dog bites were reported to The Ohio Department of Health. Dog bites can occur at any time—while you are at the park running, at a friend’s house for a barbecue, at a grocery store shopping, etc. Being bitten by a dog is not only emotionally damaging but can also lead to physical injuries, such as lacerations, bruises, infections, or broken bones.

Pet owners owe others a duty of care to ensure their protection and safety from their dogs. If you are bitten by a dog while lawfully on someone else’s property or in a public place (i.e. a park, store, etc.), you can pursue legal action and fight for your right to fair compensation. However, before you file a claim, you may wonder what you should do immediately after you are bitten by a dog. Below, we outline the five steps you should take once you are bitten.

1. Inspect Your Injuries

You should assess your wounds to determine whether you need to be rushed to the emergency room or not. Severe dog bites, like those that have caused deep wounds or nerve damage, should be treated by a professional. It is important to note that regardless of whether your injuries appear minor or severe, you can pursue compensation for your economic and noneconomic damages.

2. Medically Treat Your Wounds

No matter how severe your injuries are, you should have them looked at; you can take steps to treat your wound yourself as well but more serious injuries should be treated by professionals. To avoid infection, the wound should be washed; you can clean the wound with warm water and mild soap. If you are bleeding, you should apply pressure to the wound with a clean bandage or cloth as that can slow the bleeding. Before wrapping or bandaging the wound, apply an antiseptic cream.

As we mentioned, it is best to be seen by a medical professional. Once the bleeding has slowed and the wound is bandaged, seek professional treatment, especially if you are worried about an infection.

How Do I Know If My Dog Bite Wound Is Infected?

Nearly 15% of dog bites become infected. Failure to properly clean or treat the wounds from a dog bite is the most common cause of infection, and infections can lead to other serious medical issues. If you seek medical treatment and adhere to their advice, you will likely avoid an infection.

Infections typically develop within 24 to 48 hours. If you notice the following signs, you should seek medical attention as these are signs of an infection.

  • Difficulty moving the injured part of your body
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Pain (for over a day)
  • Shaking
  • Swelling, redness, or excessive drainage from the wound
  • Warm feelings around the wound site

Could I Have Rabies?

Many people wonder if they should get a rabies shot if they were bitten by a dog. In most cases, you will need a tetanus shot rather than a rabies shot. However, your healthcare provider can assess you and make an informed decision about what shots you need; after a bite incident, dogs are typically monitored and assessed for rabies, and most dogs have been vaccinated.

3. Take Photos & Gather Information

To help your claim, you should take photos of the dog, your injuries, and the scene of the incident. However, please prioritize your safety; if the dog is still attacking aggressively, keep your distance and ask the owner or authorities for pictures.

Before leaving the scene, you should also acquire the contact information of the dog’s owner. You should also ask about their dog’s age, vaccination records, and other information. Collect the names and information of any witnesses as well.

4. Report the Dog Bite

Ohio law requires anyone with knowledge of a dog bite or attack to report the incident to their local health commissioner within a day of the incident (see Ohio Administrative Code § 3701-3-28). Legally, the dog bite victim, dog’s owner, a medical healthcare professional, or the dog’s vet should report the incident. Dog bite incidents can be reported online or via phone (937-642-2053). When you file a report, you will need to include information about:

  • The dog’s name and physical characteristics
  • The location of the incident
  • The name and contact information of the person bitten
  • The details of how and where the person was bitten
  • The name and contact information of the dog’s owner

After making the report, the dog can be monitored for rabies for at least 10 days, and the dog may be quarantined for that time. If the dog doesn’t have an owner, authorities may try to locate the dog; in some cases, they may be put to sleep if the dog is deemed unhealthy.

5. Consult with Our Dog Bite/Attack Attorneys

The attorneys at Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC have an understanding of the state laws and regulations that govern dog bite claims. While you focus on your injuries and treatment, our attorneys can handle the case’s legalities. Once you retain our services, we can help you build a solid case by:

  • Investigating the accident
  • Investigating the dog’s history (to see if they have a history of violence)
  • Minimizing your liability and maximizing your compensation
  • Calculating the damages you are owed
  • Interviewing witness
  • Consulting with experts who can serve as witnesses (i.e. medical professionals, dog psychologists, etc.)
  • Negotiating or litigating the case

To schedule a case consultation with Bridges, Jillisky, Weller & Gullifer, LLC, call (937) 403-9033 or complete our online contact form today. Backed by decades of collective experience, our attorneys are dedicated to helping clients pursue compensation.