Approximately 4.7 million people, mostly children, suffer dog-bite injuries in the United States each year, and about 10 to 20 die from their injuries. Children are more vulnerable to dog bites because they are less familiar with dogs’ behaviors and are less able to defend themselves. Their shorter stature also makes them likelier to be bitten in the face, which tends to make their injuries more serious and more likely to result in life-long scarring.
Adults obviously also suffer from dog bites. And in addition to physical injuries such as abrasions, puncture wounds, lacerations, tissue loss, crush injuries, fractures, sprains, strains, disfigurements and infections, dog bites can cause emotional distress, including post-traumatic stress disorder, traumas, and phobias, such as the fear of dogs.
What to do if a dog bites you
You should not try to pull away or hit the dog since it may clamp on tighter. Try to find an object nearby that you can insert into the dog’s mouth. This may induce a gag reflex causing the dog to let go.
A less serious dog bite should be treated by first washing the wound with soap and water and then rinsing it with an antiseptic. Apply an antibiotic cream and cover the wound with a bandage.
You should see a doctor if:
- The wound is deep
- You are prone to infections (such as if you have liver problems, diabetes, HIV, or AIDS)
- You have recently had major surgery
- You are older than 50 years of age
If you do not know the dog or its owner, you should also contact your local animal control board.
Seek Medical Attention
Your first priority is to seek medical help. Dog-bite wounds can vary in severity. You may be able to wash the wound yourself and cover it with a bandage and antibiotic cream.
However, if you don’t think you can clean and bandage the wound yourself, you should see a doctor. Dog bites can cause infections that should be treated with antibiotics. And if the wound is deep, you may need to have it sutured or stitched closed.
Retain the Evidence
As soon as you are in control of the situation and have your immediate medical needs taken care of, your next concern should be making sure the incident is properly documented.
- Report the incident to the authorities. Animal control in your area may be handled by the police or by an animal control department.
- Identify the dog and owner. This will help you get the dog’s license and vaccination information.
- Photograph your wounds. It may not feel like it at the time, but your wounds will heal. You need to document the severity of your injuries.
- Make of list of witnesses. Identify everyone you can that witnessed the incident and get their contact information. This may require you to return to the scene later to knock on doors.
- Medical records. If you do seek medical help at a hospital or urgent care facility, there will be documentation of your visit and the extent of your injuries.
Taking these initial steps will ensure that we are on the right track for gathering all the necessary evidence to move forward with your claim.
Who can be held liable?
You may seek compensation for your damages from anyone whose negligence resulted in the dog bite. Most states place responsibility for a dog bite on the dog’s owner, especially if the owner knew the dog has a history of aggression or if he or she was in violation of animal restraint and confinement laws. But dog-bite liability laws do vary by state, and in some cases, landlords, previous owners of the dog, and even day-care centers can be held at least partially liable.
In the case of a child who was injured by a dog bite, the amount of compensation may be greater because of the possibility of long-term medical expenses and emotional trauma. Sometimes the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy will pay for the damages. Regardless of the circumstances, however, an experienced dog-bite lawyer should be able to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to.
You should also be aware that there is a statute of limitations or time limit by which you must begin a dog-bite suit. For this and other reasons, if you are considering consulting with a dog-bite attorney, it is in your interest to do so as soon as possible. Give us a call or send an email today so that our South Carolina dog-bite attorneys can evaluate your case. There will be no cost or obligation to you.
With offices in Aiken, Camden, Columbia, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, and Sumter, South Carolina, our dog-bite attorneys in South Carolina are ready to serve you.