Here are the top 5 questions to consider if you are bitten, injured, or attacked by a dog:
- What are the first things to do if I am bitten, attacked or injured by a dog?
- Should I call the Police?
- Should I seek Medical Treatment?
- After I obtain Medical Treatment, what do I do about the Medical Bills?
- Should I seek Legal Advice?
If you are bitten, attacked or injured by a dog there are a number of things that you should
- Identify the dog and try to find out if the dog is licensed.
- Identify the owner or the person responsible for watching and controlling the dog.
- Get the name, address, phone number of the owner, keeper, or custodian of the dog
- Try to identify any witnesses to the accident and get their information (name, address, etc).
- Take Pictures of the bites, your injuries, your clothing, etc.
- Do your best to take pictures of the accident scene and the dog.
REMEMBER: The owner of a dog (or a person watching/keeping a Dog) can be liable if a dog bites you, jumps on you, charges at you or otherwise causes injury to you by reason of their behavior and actions!!!
It is always advisable and a VERY good idea to call the police and ask them to come to the scene of the accident. On occasion, the police might direct you to the local ANIMAL CONTROL Officer (although many cities and counties do not have such a staff person or that person’s work schedule might prevent the officer from coming out to the scene. Nonetheless, you should certainly call the police (especially if you are bleeding and have been bit or injured.
It is always advisable to seek timely medical treatment if you have sustained an injury as a result of a dog attack/bite. Especially in the event of a bite, the issue of rabies is a big concern. Therefore, besides the cleaning and dressing of any wound, medical treatment and evaluation will serve to screen for rabies.
It is always a good idea to ask that the Medical Personnel who are evaluating you to take pictures of the wounds, bites, scarring, etc.
A. MED PAY COVERAGE:
- If the owner and/or keeper of the Dog has homeowner’s or renters insurance, that Insurance Company will likely have “MED PAY” Insurance.
- MED PAY is a part of many insurance policies and pays for an injured person’s accident related medical bills in most instances (except for certain exclusions where, for instance, a person was a trespasser on the homeowner’s property, or was trying to intentionally hurt a dog and was bit as a result of the dog trying to defend itself).
- In cases where MED PAY applies, please be aware that the limits to MED PAY are often small: $1,000.00 to $5,000.00 to $10,000.00.
NOTE: You may want to check your own policy to see what you own limits are. Many times the cost to increase MED PAY Limits are pretty small. Increased limits can often serve to be of benefit to a Homeowner or Renter (if you are wondering why this is the case, please feel free to contact me.)
B. YOUR OWN MEDICAL INSURANCE:
Your own medical insurance will almost always step in (subject to deductibles of course) to cover your bills. However, it is almost always best to use and exhaust any available MED PAY coverages from the owner of the dog first before having your own insurance company pay for your accident-related bills. The reasons for this are numerous. If you would like more information as to why this is the case, please feel free to contact me.
As a lawyer who has handled dog bite/attack personal injury claims for over 30 years what do you expect me to say? Of course, you should! Admittedly I am biased: You should only consult with a lawyer who is experienced in handling dog attack/bite cases. There are a number of reasons for doing this.
Some lawyers are under the impression that “EVERY DOG GETS ONE FREE BITE”. In my legal (and not so humble opinion), this is NONSENSE! It is my professional opinion, in reliance upon cases from the Oregon Appellate Courts, that an owner or keeper (a person who is watching a dog), is legally “RESPONSIBLE” for taking reasonable precautions to prevent a dog from injuring a person.
Even IF A DOG HAS NOT BITTEN prior to your bite or accident, you may very well have a PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM for your medical bills, lost wages, injuries, pain & suffering, scars, etc. It is critical to speak to and consult with an experienced lawyer who handles personal injury claims involving dogs.
It can very often be complicated in dealing with MED PAY and GROUP HEALTH insurance in terms of getting bills paid in a timely and appropriate manner.
It is important to document your injuries, as well as any scarring, as the weeks and months go by.
If a bite/attack involves a MINOR CHILD, the PARENT of the MINOR will need to PETITION and OBTAIN APPROVAL of a court in the county where they and the minor child lived (The PROBATE COURT of that County).
In such a case, a CONSERVATOR (usually a PARENT) has to be appointed by the court and, if and when a settlement or a recovery is obtained, the court will have to review the settlement and will have to approve the payment and distribution of the settlement funds. This can be a somewhat complicated process. It is usually impractical to undertake this process without the assistance and representation of an experienced and competent lawyer.
Finally, since I handle Dog Bite/Attack claims on a contingent fee basis, I do NOT get paid an attorney fee, unless and until I obtain a recovery for you. Also, if your MINOR CHILD was the person who has been injured, the PROBATE COURT has to approve my attorney fee before I can get paid a fee for my professional services.
Since the contingent attorney fee is the same, whether an attorney is hired immediately after a BITE/ATTACK, or if an Attorney is handled months after the attack, it is wise to hire an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. In this way, a timely and appropriate investigation of the accident and claim can be undertaken and the injured person’s damages can be documented as the weeks and months go by.