Getting attacked by a dog is a scary and traumatizing event. It is important that you take certain steps to make sure you are taken care of and that future attacks can be prevented. The steps you should take immediately after a dog attack are:
- Seek immediate medical care. Even seemingly small dog bite wounds can result in serious infections and/or permanent scarring. Big or small, you should seek medical care from a trained professional to ensure that the wound is properly cleaned and, if necessary, sewn up. Dog bite wounds can not only allow infection from the bacteria in the bite, but they can also allow dangerous staphylococcus bacteria (MRSA) to enter the wound and cause a “staph” infection. Dogs may also carry rabies. Thus, proper medical care is very important.
- Report the incident to animal control. Reporting dog bites is the Law. Animal control needs to investigate to ensure there is no threat of rabies spread. Locate your animal control department phone number here and report it. Animal control will then conduct an investigation to be sure the animal is up to date on its rabies vaccinations, properly secured, and identified. The bite report they create will help your dog bite lawyer to identify the proper responsible party as well as document the dog attack. You can submit a request for the report directly using the following sample open records request if they do not provide one to you immediately.
- Follow your doctor’s wound-cleaning instructions. Because infections are common with dog bite wounds, you should be very careful to regularly change the bandaging around the wound and to perform proper wound care regularly. Furthermore, you need to take the antibiotics as prescribed to prevent infection. Be sure to follow up as ordered for cleaning, wound care, and monitoring of the healing process.
- Identify potential witnesses. While witnesses to the bite are important, witnesses to prior aggressive actions by the dog are ten times as important. So be on the lookout for both. If there were any eyewitnesses (other than the dog owner), write down their names, addresses, and phone numbers and put this somewhere safe. If anyone such as neighbors or friends of the dog owner tells you this dog has bitten someone before, those people are extremely important witnesses and you must prove that the owner had prior knowledge of the dog’s dangerous propensities. Obtain their information as well.
- Document your injuries. A picture is worth a thousand words. Nothing helps prove the extent of what you endured like photographs documenting the injuries from the beginning through the entire medical treatment process. Take photos early and often with a cell phone or whatever you may have available. Also, be sure to save all medical receipts so your medical expenses can be covered along with other costs by any dog bite settlement.
- Call a Houston dog bite attorney. Before you speak to the dog owner or their insurance representatives, you should seek legal advice from a Houston dog bite lawyer who understands the “One Free Bite Rule” and the issues surrounding it. Just owning the dog does not make the dog owner liable for a bite in Texas. In many cases, you have to prove they knew or should have known the dog had shown vicious propensities towards humans in the past. Your lawyer may need to take statements and research prior bite reports to establish your case.
Following these steps will help protect your rights and the rights of others.