Dogs can be great companions, but some aren’t friendly to strangers. An encounter with a vicious or untrained dog can result in a dog bite injury, leaving you with physical and emotional trauma.
Not to mention the financial loss you might suffer if you have to take time off from work to recover.
In such cases, you should learn how to file a claim with an experienced dog bite attorney who can guide you through the steps you need to take.
They can help you get the proper compensation for your injury to cover your medical bills so you can get your recovery journey underway.
Here are the steps to file a dog bite claim after suffering an injury:
Step 1: Find the dog’s owner
The first thing to try to do if you’re attacked and bitten by a dog is to find its owner. In many states, they’re strictly liable for the dog’s actions; in others, their negligence in controlling the dog makes them accountable.
Get the owner’s contact information and ask about the dog’s rabies vaccination status.
Rabies is a severe, often fatal virus transmitted through animal bites and scratches. You should know how serious the bite could be and deal with it accordingly.
Right after the dog attack, confusion and chaos can ensue, leaving room for the owner to make a run for it to avoid being held accountable.
Ask witnesses if they saw what happened and if they can identify the dog or its owner.
Step 2: Take photos of the scene
Before you leave the attack scene, take pictures or a video of everything, such as the dog, the bite marks, any blood drops or stains, and any broken fences or loose leashes.
If you’re not in a good-enough condition to do this yourself, ask a witness nicely if they can help you with this step.
This is crucial to document the situation and avoid instances where hearsay can blur the lines in court.
Step 3: Seek medical treatment for your injuries
Seeking medical treatment for your injury, no matter how small, is the right step after a dog attack. Aside from preventing your injury from worsening, it also helps protect your right to the claim.
Medical records are filed with your claim to show that your injuries are consistent with a dog bite and that you got the proper treatment after the bite.
This prevents the insurance adjuster from claiming your lack of compliance with medical advice justifies a lower compensation.
Step 4: Alert the police and animal control
This step puts on record that the dog is dangerous and that the attack happened, which strengthens your claim.
It also helps local Animal Control authorities identify potential threats from vicious dogs in your area, so other people are spared.
Step 5: Organize reports, bills, and documentation
Keep track of all bills, reports, and any financial losses you suffered from the dog bite. This includes lost income from days off at your job or any potential job insecurity you face.
This is a crucial step to put a number on the compensation you should claim from the homeowner or renter’s insurance of the dog owner. It also helps calculate the pain and suffering factor of your claim.
Step 6: Hire a dog bite lawyer
Hiring a lawyer for your dog bite claim can help you secure a win in court. They have the proper knowledge to assemble a strong case and prove your right to adequate compensation for your trouble.
Many personal injury lawyers who are experienced in such cases also agree to work for a contingency fee. That means your lawyer gets paid only a percentage of the settlement when you win the claim.
Final thoughts on how to file a dog bite claim
Dog bites can result in severe wounds and psychological trauma. Thus they should never be taken lightly. When someone else’s dog bites you, you undoubtedly have the right to claim compensation to help you cover your medical expenses and other costs.
The best approach to maximize your rights is to entrust the process of obtaining that compensation to a skilled personal injury attorney.