Californians love their dogs, and why not? They’re loyal, friendly, playful creatures who provide companionship and in some cases, security. Yet even the most avid dog lover would have to admit (though probably not about their own pet) that dogs can and do bite. Sacramento dog bite lawyers are seeing a year-on-year increase in cases where people have been savagely bitten, injured, scarred and traumatized by someone else’s pet, most of which have “never bitten anyone in their life!”
Being at the wrong end of a dog bite is a horrible experience for anyone and particularly for a child. Unfortunately, small children are the most frequent victims, according to dog bite attorneys. The first reaction is quite often to panic, but there are a number of things you can and should do if you’ve been bitten by a dog that could be critically important to your recovery.
Recognize And Identify
Quite often—in fact in the majority of cases—people are either bitten by their own pet or by a dog owned by a friend or neighbor. In those cases, it’s quite easy to identify the animal that bit you. However, if you were bitten by a stray or a dog that’s not known to you, it is vital that you keep your wits about you and commit the dog’s size, breed, features, marks, etc., to memory so you can identify it later. This is important because:
- If you cannot identify the animal that bit you, there’s a good chance you’ll have to undergo treatment to prevent rabies. These injections are extremely painful, and might not be necessary if you can positively identify the animal that attacked you.
- Sacramento dog bite attorneys say that anyone in California who has been bitten by someone else’s dog is entitled to compensation in the vast majority of circumstances. In order to get this compensation, however, you will have to be able to positively identify the dog that bit you.
Get Medical Attention Immediately
Untreated dog bites can lead to infection, including the aforementioned rabies. If the bite was severe enough, you may also require plastic surgery. One frightening statistic regarding dog bites is that about half of all people who are bitten are bitten on the face.
More than 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year. One in 12 will require a visit to a hospital emergency room, which means that 1,000 Americans every day end up making unexpected and costly trips to get emergency medical treatment. Some of the things to remember include:
- If you have not had a tetanus injection in the five years before the bite, be sure to let the medical provider know.
- If you’ve been bitten on the face, absolutely insist on seeing a plastic surgeon. Emergency room doctors do a fantastic job of keeping people alive, but their stitching techniques could not be expected to match that of a skilled plastic surgeon.
- Follow your physician’s instructions to the letter and take all prescribed medications. If you eventually decide to make a claim, the insurance companies will want to know if you made things worse by not doing what the doctor told you to do.
- If you’ve been scarred, stay out of the sun, use sun block if you have to go out, use scar reduction lotions or creams and change your bandages when you’re told to do so.
- Report for your follow-up treatment without fail. Again, if you neglect to do this, you’re putting both your health and your potential lawsuit in jeopardy.
- Discuss the rabies question with your doctor. It’s possible you won’t need the shots, even if you can’t identify the animal, because rabies might not be currently present in your geographical area. But if your doctor suggests that you undergo the treatment, then you really should do so.
If You Decide To Make A Sacramento Dog Bite Claim
Making a claim for injuries caused by a dog bite can be a stressful and time-consuming experience, and many people choose to consult with a good dog bite attorney. If you’ve been bitten by someone else’s dog, you can claim for things like:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Cosmetic surgery if required, even in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Trauma, stress and other psychological damage
Expect a call from an insurance company representative if the dog’s owner has an insurance policy. The average settlement for a dog bite claim in California in 2011 was $38,500, so most people will want their insurance company to foot that rather sizable bill.
If you do get a call from an insurance company, there are things you should and shouldn’t do. Start by getting the following information:
- The name of the insurance company and the person you’re speaking to. Write it down!
- The address and phone number of the insurance company’s local office
- Your claim number
- The name of the insured person (dog owner)
- Ask how much money is immediately available just to cover your medical expenses. Let them know that this is not a question about the full settlement value, just the immediate medical expenses.
Give this information to your Sacramento dog bite lawyer and discuss with the attorney the best way to proceed with your case. A good dog bite attorney will also advise you not to do any of the following:
- Don’t discuss money or payments of any kind with either the dog’s owner or the insurance company representative. If they try to bring it up, refer them to your dog bite attorney.
- Don’t agree to an appointment without first clearing it with your lawyer.
- Don’t give any written statements to the insurance company. Again, if they ask, refer them to your attorney.
- If the insurance company asks if they can record your conversation, tell them no.
- Do not allow the dog’s owner or the insurance company to take photographs of the injuries. You should take photos yourself as soon after the accident as possible, but don’t share them with the insurance company.
- Don’t be drawn into a discussion about who is responsible for the dog attack. That’s a conversation best saved for the courtroom.
- Never accept any money from the insurance company or the dog owner, as they might claim later that you took the money as full settlement of your claim.
Clearly, making a dog bite claim is a legal minefield, but if you’ve been injured by someone else’s dog, you have the right to compensation, and you’re going to need it! The cost of medical treatment, medications and plastic surgery are prohibitive, and you shouldn’t have to absorb these costs yourself.
To make sure you get the best and fairest settlement, contact a qualified and experienced Sacramento dog bite injury attorney. They will guide you through the entire process, advise you of your rights and entitlements under California law, and deal with the insurance companies on your behalf.
This literature may be considered attorney advertising or an offer of professional services, according to rule 1-400 Rules of Professional Conduct by the State Bar of California. The information does not constitute a guarantee, warranty or prediction regarding the outcome of your potential legal matter.