You’re walking down the street when you see someone walking their dog. They pay you no mind until you pass them. Without warning, the dog lashes out and bites the back of your leg, ripping your pants. You’ve never been bitten before, and now you’re wondering what you should do after a dog bite.
To navigate this stressful process, we’ve put together a six-step guide to help at the scene and address the next steps.
Step 1: Get to Safety
Getting to safety is the first and most important thing you should do after any dog bite. This might mean standing on the other side of a park wall, going to the nearest convenience store or public restroom, or standing on top of a park table. In any case, you should create distance while the owner calms their animal.
Make sure you avoid direct eye contact with an aggressive dog. Locking eyes can make the animal nervous or angry, and they may attempt to bite you again.
Step 2: Identify Injuries
Once you’ve reached safety, you should determine the severity of your injuries. If it was a “warning bite,” you’ll likely see some small puncture wounds and perhaps some blood. However, if the wound is more serious, you might see deep lacerations and bleeding that warrant immediate medical attention.
If there’s excessive bleeding or the bite marks look like cuts from a knife, you should call 911. Paramedics are best equipped to sterilize your wound (to prevent infection) and manage the bleeding until a doctor can see you.
Once you are out of harm's way, consider taking pictures of the wound (if you are comfortable doing so). These pictures are valuable evidence demonstrating the extent of your injuries and the severity of the dog bite.
Step 3: Get the Owner’s Information
Once the dog is calm and you’ve taken a moment to collect yourself, you need to get the owner’s information. In most cases, this means getting that person’s name, phone number, and email address. If the dog is licensed and wears a tag, you should get the dog’s license number as well.
It’s crucial that you verify all their information at the scene. In some cases, a phone number and an email may be your only means of contacting the owner. Once you have their phone number, call or text them immediately and make sure it goes to their phone. You may also ask to see their ID so you can verify their identity and contact them later.
Step 4: Report the Bite
Once you have the dog owner’s information, you may want to call animal services and report a dog bite. If the dog is still aggressive, slipped its leash, or is actively trying to bite you again, you should do this immediately after the bite.
Reporting the bite creates a public record demonstrating which dog bit you. The report also goes on the dog’s record and can be used to identify dogs that are a danger to the community.
Step 5: Get Medical Treatment
Once you have the owner’s information and you’ve reported the incident to animal services, you should go directly to the doctor’s office. Going to the doctor immediately after a dog bite can help you manage the dangers of infection, even from a minor dog bite, and identify the full extent of the damages. If the bite is especially severe, you may even need stitches.
Additionally, going to the doctor immediately after the bite creates documentation for your injury, demonstrating that you sought medical attention because a dog bit you. Like the photos, this can be invaluable evidence in seeking justice.
Step 6: Speak to a Dog Bite Attorney
Once you’ve sought treatment, you should contact an experienced dog bite attorney. A skilled attorney can file a claim against the owner on your behalf, pursuing damages for your injuries and the medical treatment you needed to recover. An attorney on your side can handle all of the busy work, so you can focus on feeling better.
If you were seriously injured by another’s dog, we can fight for you! If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced St. Louis dog bite attorney from The Dixon Injury Firm, don’t hesitate to send us an email or call (314) 208-2808.