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What to Do After Being Bitten by a Dog

You may be bitten by a dog while at a friend’s house for a barbecue or while on a run in your local park or while out and about. Being bitten by a dog in any circumstance can not only be traumatic but can also lead to you being seriously or even gravely injured. If you were bitten while you were lawfully on someone else’s property, you may consider taking legal. Below, we will outline the do’s and don’ts concerning what to do after a dog bite accident.

1. Do Assess Your Injuries

After being bitten by a dog, you should determine whether you need emergency medical treatment or if you can treat your wound yourself. Whether you can handle treating your wound(s) largely depends on how severe your injuries are.

How Do You Know If a Dog Bite Is Serious?

Typically, a dog bite is serious if you have deep lacerations, deep puncture wounds, or an infection. Your bite injuries are likely also serious if you have nerve damage or are bleeding excessively.

It is important to note that you can bring a claim forward even if it was a “minor” dog bite. Regardless of whether the bite injuries are minor or major, you can be compensated for medical expenses, property damage, and psychological injuries (PTSD, stress disorders, etc.) you may have sustained.

2. Don’t Avoid Seeking Treatment

Even if your wounds are minor, you should wash the wound with mild soap under warm water for at least five minutes. If you are bleeding, you can use a clean cloth to apply pressure and slow the bleeding. After following these steps, you should then apply an antiseptic or antibiotic cream and wrap the wound in a clean bandage.

Keep the wound bandaged and then seek medical treatment. No matter how minor the injury, you should see a doctor as they can prescribe antibiotics if they are worried the wound might be infected and advise you of the warning signs of an infection.

How Long After a Dog Bite Does Infection Set In?

Research suggests that approximately 10%-15% of dog bites become infected. Bites that are not properly cleaned or treated are at the greatest risk of developing an infection, and infections can spread and cause other serious medical complications. If the bite is not treated, an infection can develop within one to two days. Signs of an infection include:

  • 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

Do I Need a Rabies Shot After a Dog Bite?

If the animal that bit you is a domestic pet, you will likely not need an anti-rabies, and you can ask the owner about the pet’s vaccination records. However, dogs or other animals who are not domesticated may present a danger to you. When you go to the doctor’s office, they should examine you and determine whether you need a rabies shot. In most cases, though, you will likely need a tetanus shot if you have not had one within the past five years.

3. Do Get Needed Information & Photographs

If you know the dog’s owner, you should get their contact information and name as well as information about their dog (i.e. vaccination record, description, age, etc.). If you don’t know who owns the dog, take note of where the incident occurred and consider whether you notice that dog frequents the area or not. It is also important to collect the names and information of any witnesses. Once you have this information, you should take pictures of the scene, the dog, and your injuries.

4. Do Report the Incident

Under Anchorage laws, animal bites, including those from dogs, must be reported to Animal Care and Control. After reporting the incident, the dog can be monitored for rabies by authorities or the owner for rabies, and the state’s records can be updated. When you make the report, you should share as much of the following information as you know.

  • The description and/or name of the animal
  • The time and location of the attack
  • Whether the animal has left the scene and where you last saw them

5. Do Consult with a Reliable Dog Bite/Attack Attorney

You should consult with an attorney for a host of reasons—chief of which being that they have a better understanding of the laws governing your case. An experienced attorney can help you strengthen your case by locating and investigating potentially liable parties, documenting and calculating your damages, interviewing expert witnesses, and negotiating and/or litigating on your behalf. Once they review your case and investigate, they can build a personalized legal strategy that accounts for the laws regulating your claim.

Alaska Dog Bite Laws

Important laws and elements you should be aware of include but are not limited to:

  • The “one bite rule.” Because of the one bite rule, a dog’s owner can be held liable for your injuries if they knew or suspected that their dog might injure someone else. If the dog has bitten someone before, the owner is then aware that their dog might bite someone else. The dog’s history of threatening behavior, jumping on others, acting frightening, or participating in fight training will also be considered by the court.
  • Elements of negligence. If you file a dog bite claim, you will have to prove the four elements of negligence: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Legally, dog owners owe others a duty of care to ensure are safe from harm caused by their dogs. If they do not take steps to ensure your safety when interacting with their dogs or to keep their dog away from others if they are aggressive, they may be held liable for causing your injuries and damages.
  • The statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time limit imposed on legal claims. Unless you have a legal exception that extends this two-year window, your case will not be heard by the court if you file outside of the statute of limitation. In Alaska, you must file a dog bite claim within two years of the date of injury.
  • Comparative negligence. Under Alaska Statutes § 09.17.060, a plaintiff’s damages will be reduced based on their percentage of fault in the accident. For instance, in a dog bite claim, you may be considered partially at fault if you approached the dog without permission, chased the animal, or acted aggressively before being bitten. Let’s say that you are deemed to be 25% at fault for the incident; if you were awarded $20,000, your award would be reduced by 25%, and you would only receive $15,000.
  • Third-party liability. While most claims are made against the dog’s owner, a building owner, property management company, landlord, or another third party may be liable for your injuries. By working with an attorney, they can help you investigate the circumstance of the accident

At the Law Offices of David Henderson, our attorney is dedicated to helping clients fight for their right to fair compensation (for medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, lost wages, and any other incurred economic and non-economic damages). To learn more about our services and discuss your dog bite claim, complete our online form or call (888) 295-6566 today.