Dogs and people usually get along well, especially when the dog is well cared for. However, dogs can become aggressive or overly excited and this can cause them to bite people. Even a dog you’ve petted before can bite you. Millions of people get bitten by dogs in the United States each year. Home insurers paid out $797 million in claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2019.
If you were bitten, you may be able to sue the dog’s owner for damages. In Georgia, people who own dogs are usually strictly liable for any harm they cause. This means they can be held responsible regardless of whether they knew the dog was aggressive. As long as the animal was in a public place or you were legally entitled to be on the owner’s property, strict liability applies.
If you were trespassing, you may find it a lot harder to hold the owner liable. Also, if there was a sign warning visitors about the dog, the owner may only be responsible if they were negligent in some way. They may have let the dog go off-leash or failed to repair their broken fence. You’ll need to have an Atlanta personal injury lawyer review your case to determine if you truly have grounds to seek damages.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog and you want to get compensation for your injuries, you need to take the right steps. Let’s look at what you should do.
Make Sure You’re Safe
The first thing you need to do is put some distance between yourself and the dog. Resist the urge to run, yell or hit the animal and simply back away slowly. If you make the dog feel threatened, it may endanger you even further. When you’re safe, try to ascertain the extent of your injuries. Call 911 and report the incident and if you believe your injuries are serious, ask for an ambulance to be dispatched. If someone saw what happened, they’ll likely make the call.
Go to the Doctor
It may not appear that your injuries are serious. However, this doesn’t mean you should treat yourself and not see a doctor. Even if you just have one or two small puncture wounds, the dog may have infected you with rabies or another disease. Wash the area with soap and water and go to your primary care physician or the doctor. The sooner you get medical attention, the better it will be for you.
If the dog did serious damage, you may need stitches or even surgery. However, minor wounds may only require an antibiotic ointment and a bandage. You may also get a tetanus shot. If you don’t seek medical attention and ensure you get the recommended treatment, you’ll jeopardize both your health and the success of your insurance claim.
Get Information About the Dog
If you were bitten by a neighbor’s dog, it’ll be easier to get information. You may even already know everything there is to know. However, if you encountered a random dog in a park or one strayed into your neighborhood, you may not know who owns it. You should try to get:
- The name of the owner
- Their insurance information
- The name of the person who was in charge of the animal when it bit you
- The dog’s address
- The contact details for any eyewitnesses
In some cases, you’ll need help from the police or an Albany dog bite lawyer to get this information.
Keep All Documentation Relating to the Attack
Whether you want to go to trial or reach an out-of-court settlement with the owner, you’ll need to have proof of your losses. Your medical records will prove the extent of your injuries while your bills will show the economic losses you incurred. Some of the things for which you can claim compensation include:
- Doctor’s visits
- Surgical operations
- Wheelchairs, crutches and other equipment
Your lawyer will want to see the documents so they can help you to calculate the value of your claim.
Contact Calvin Smith Law Today for Help!
After you’ve seen a doctor, one of the next steps is to get in touch with an attorney. This will help you to properly plan your next steps. If you were attacked by a dog through no fault of your own, you deserve to get full compensation for your losses. Contact the Albany dog bite attorneys at Calvin Smith Law and get the advice and representation you need.