What to Do After a Dog Attack
A dog bite injury is a frightening experience for anyone. From young children to time-hardened adults, a dog bite is a dangerous thing. It's unnerving to think that a friendly pet might become violent, especially if you did not know the dog was a biting risk. In Texas, the statute of limitations to file suit for a dog bite injury is two years; but, the strongest case is the one built immediately after the injury occurs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 4 million dog bites happen annually in the United States, of which 800,000 require medical intervention and care. That means approximately 1 in 69 people being seriously injured by a dog. When these animals attack, there is often an incident of negligence on the part of the owners who knew their dog posed a threat to the public, didn’t keep the animal secure, or put it in a situation where a bite was inevitable.
Take Care of Yourself or Loved One
First and most importantly, take care of yourself or your injured loved one. Your safety is the most important follow-up step after a dog bite injury. Only once your safety is assured should you take further steps into consideration.
Get to Safety
After being attacked by a dog, the first step is always to get to safety. Separate yourself from the animal and achieve a safe distance where it cannot get to you. If you have just separated from the encounter, make sure you are safe before taking records or calling for assistance.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Seek immediate medical attention. If you are bleeding, have broken bones, or any other apparent damage, have it looked at by a medical professional. A dog's mouth carries a lot of bacteria. Any open wounds need to be sterilized and wrapped. Any bruises or internal damage needs to examined to make sure you are safe.
A dog bite can lead to rabies or tetanus infection. Immediate medical care is needed when the bite is from a dog that has or might have rabies. Symptoms of infection include redness, swelling, increased pain, and oozing. A doctor should look at these symptoms right away. Bite wounds from dogs can range from minor to life-threatening and need to be treated quickly to prevent infection or traumatic complications.
Dog bites and related psychological injuries sometimes have lasting effects and early treatment is essential.
Gain an Assessment of the Medical Aftermath
While speaking with the doctor, get a full assessment of your injuries and predicted recovery needs. This will help you assess your potential medical costs (even in the long-term) and gauge the severity of your injuries. Many people underestimate the psychological toll a dog attack can have.
Scarring and Amputation
Tragically, wounds inflicted by a dog bite frequently result in a lasting reminder as a scar or amputated limb or digit. Severe bites may require a host of medical procedures to repair the damage, including:
These treatments may never restore a victim to their previous state, which can be especially devastating when injuries are in visible areas like the face.
PTSD After Dog Attacks
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a frequent consequence of being bitten by a dog and can affect any age group, man or woman, who has endured such an experience. This condition and the emotional anguish that comes with it is typically triggered by a traumatic event, like a dog attack. The following are some symptoms that a dog bite victim may suffer from that can cause them to develop PTSD:
Paranoia, especially when seeing or near dogs
Isolating yourself from others
Physical symptoms like headaches
There are many medical treatment options for PTSD to help minimize its effect on your life and allow you to heal emotionally. Still, the level of mental anguish PTSD causes a sufferer is very real and qualifies for additional compensation in your personal injury claim.
Infections From Dog Bites
Just like their human owners, dogs have good days and bad days. Unfortunately, in cases where a bad day means aggressive behavior that leads to a bite, the consequences could quickly become tragic. Canine germs spread to humans through a variety of ways, but the results of a bite puncturing the skin can deposit the bacteria deep in the wound, causing a significant impact on your life, including:
Dog-bite Septicemia The bacteria making up dog-bite septicemia originates in a variety of animals and humans. The effects caused by such an infection can kill the young and old alike, especially those with a weakened immune system. In patients where the disease is not discovered early and treated with antibiotics, they risk an increased chance of developing a fatal condition.
Tetanus The toxin that makes tetanus so dangerous can leave a sufferer rigidly paralyzed. If you develop this disease from a dog bite, you will likely receive treatment while kept in the hospital. This painful condition can take a month or more to recover from.
Rabies One of the worst developments after being bitten by a dog is suffering from rabies, a fatal neurological disease. Being bitten by a dog that hasn’t been given the rabies vaccination is often all it takes before the victim starts to spiral out of control.
As you can see, dog bites risk infections and other wounds that will take months and years to recover from. You may need reconstructive surgery for an injury suffered after being attacked by a dog.
A personal injury attorney, like Rachel Ambler, can help you locate a plastic surgeon to repair the physical injuries and a counselor or therapist to help you deal with the psychological injuries. This is another reason it's important to have an attorney who lives in West Texas. You don't want to have to go to Dallas or Houston for care. A local attorney knows the local medical providers who can help you best.
Document & Record the Attack
While you're making sure that you are okay after the dog bite, ask a friend, family-member, or an on-site witness to help you collect information at the scene. While your safety is paramount, it is also important to gather information perhaps only available in the hour after the incident occurred.
Get the Dog & Owner's Information
Get the name of the dog owner and the information for both the dog and their owner. Get full names, contact information (including home address, place of work, phone number), and homeowner's insurance information. If the attack was at a rented home or apartment, get the name of the property owner and their contact information. Make sure you can identify the dog owner and get in touch with them before anyone leaves the scene.
Take Photographs of the Scene
Ask your friend to take photographs of the scene where your injury occurred. Photograph the scenery, the people, and the location of the dog. Take pictures of the fence (or lack of fence), the gate or door. It can be hard to know the right things to photograph, but any evidence may be helpful after the scene has broken up when details are needed.
Look around. Do any of the neighbors have a video doorbell? Is there a store with a security camera that might have caught the attack? Contact the homeowner or store and ask them to give you the video or preserve it for you.
Photograph the Injury
Take a few photos of your injury before and after it has been cleaned and treated. Create a day-one record of what the dog bite or related injury looked like before your healing process began. You'll want to take photos each day until the wound is healed to document your recovery.
Collect Witness Contacts
Ask those who witnessed the dog bite to provide some basic contact information. Should you need additional voices to back up your story you were acting safely and peacefully near the dog and did not provoke the animal. These witness are critical.
Contact Your Local Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
If you have been recently bitten or otherwise injured by a dog, Texas law is on your side. Texas is a strict liability state, meaning the owner is liable for all of their dog's actions, provided the dog was not provoked and the bitten party was acting calmly in a place they are lawfully allowed to be.
Knowing what steps to take and what your rights are make a difference in the outcome. Knowing which local doctors and local therapists are experienced and ready to help makes a difference in your recovery.
Rachel Ambler is a dedicated and experienced West Texas dog bite lawyers. She lives here and fights here. She can help you navigate the trying times following an attack, and works to get you what you are entitled to.
When you or a loved one has been hurt by an aggressive dog, that's exactly what you want. Call AmblerLaw today, 432.203.0303.