A dog attack can happen to anyone irrespective of their age or body size. Being bitten by a dog can lead to severe and long-term injuries, especially if not treated properly. Most of the time, you may not instantly know the extent of the damage or the cost of the injuries. You must understand your rights and the steps to follow if you or someone you care about has been bitten or involved in a dog attack.
Irrespective of the dog’s history, under the California dog bite law, dog owners are responsible for damages and injuries that happen as a result of the action of their dogs. Although, you may not be eligible for compensation if you are guilty of trespassing, teasing, or provoking the dog in some way. In this situation, “provocation” means to hit the dog or otherwise force the dog to respond defensively to something you are doing.
If you have been a victim of a dog attack and want to file for a dog bite injury claim, below are 5 simple steps that you can take towards getting compensation
1. You Should Seek Medical Evaluation
Seek appropriate medical care immediately. Dog bites can carry diseases such as rabies, which may lead to severe health damage if left untreated. You can start by cleaning the injury with water, antiseptic soap, and a warm cloth before you visit the hospital. Even if you feel that the injuries are not grievous, get a health professional to check and document your injury.
2. Obtain Information About the Dog
Find out relevant information about the dog; such as the name of the dog owner, dog tag details, and a copy of the dog vaccination record. It is essential that you know if the dog’s vaccines are up to date, especially the rabies vaccine. If possible, request that the dog owner send you a copy of their homeowners or renter insurance information. This will help you determine if their insurance premium covers dog bites or attack events. Most importantly, obtain the contact information of witnesses present during the dog bite incident.
3. Report the Incident to the Police and Animal Control Department
After a dog bite incident, it is essential that you report the incident to the police and animal control department. Not only will it help you get the owners’ information on record, but it could assist with your dog bite injury compensation claim. If possible, you should invite the police to the scene of the incident for thorough documentation.
4. Take Pictures of Your Injuries and Other Damages
It is essential that you document your wounds and any other damages that you may have incurred as a result of the dog attack. Sometimes, personal injury lawsuits may take months or years before it even gets to court. By that time, your injuries or bruises might have healed. Vivid pictures will convince the jury that you have/had sustained a severe injury that makes you eligible for compensation. Ask a friend to take photos of the injury from different angles and during the healing process.
5. Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Injury Attorney
A typical dog owner will likely contact his or her attorney/insurer to protect himself or herself from liability. It is advisable that you contact an experienced and trusted dog bite injury attorney for further consultation. A competent California-based personal injury lawyer should be able to gather the relevant information and handle your claims while you focus on your recovery.
Most injury lawyers are likely to handle your dog bite injury case on a contingency fee basis. This means that you’ll only have to pay the attorney or any other fee once your case is won or settled. Above all, do not speak or sign any document from the dog owner’s attorney or insurance company unless you are instructed by your attorney to do so.