Q: What should you do immediately after an animal has bitten or attacked you?
Answer: Identify the animal and its owner. If you are unable to do so, ask a bystander to obtain the information. This may be important to your health. If you can not identify the animal that bit you, it can not be checked for rabies. As a result, you may face painful rabies treatment. Furthermore, you must know the identity of the animal’s owner or caretaker if you decide to make a claim for injuries sustained during an animal attack.
Identifying the animal’s owner and the place where the animal lived at the time of the incident is also essential for a proper investigation of your claim. This information will help your lawyer and investigators answer many important questions. What did the owner and neighbors know before the attack about the likelihood of the dog or other animal to attack or bite? Had this particular animal ever bitten anybody else? If so, who and when? Was the dog allowed to roam freely in a place where there was a leash ordinance in effect?
Report the incident promptly to the local animal control department. Officials may investigate the circumstances surrounding your attack and take action to prevent future attacks on others. Department records may also reveal that the same dog or animal which bit you has been involved in prior attacks. Information regarding the animal’s prior conduct may help your lawyer win your case.
Obtain the name, address and phone number of eyewitnesses who saw the dog or animal attack. Investigators may interview these witnesses to determine if they have information to support your case. Our investigators may also locate neighbors who know whether the dog or animal had attacked other people in the past.
The dog owner’s homeowners’ or renters’ insurance policy may provide you coverage for the attack.
Get prompt medical treatment if your injuries involve more than superficial cuts or lacerations that will heal without scarring in a few days. Watch out for infection. If you sustained a severe facial cut or laceration, one which requires stitches or debridement, ask that a plastic or cosmetic surgeon perform the procedure. Plastic surgeons are trained to minimize permanent scarring.
Take photographs of your injuries as soon as possible. Also make sure to photograph your lacerations, bruises, scars, and other injuries as time passes. It usually takes a year or more for scars to reach maximum medical improvement. Your attorney may want to show an insurance claims representative or a jury how severe your injuries were during the first few weeks after your attack and how long it took for your injuries to heal.