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Personal Injury


September 6, 2022


What to Do After a Dog Bite Accident

what to do if a dog bites you

Most dogs are friendly and harmless, and most encounters with dogs do not lead to physical injury. However, being attacked, bitten, or mauled by a dog just once can cause lasting physical injuries and emotional trauma. Dogs can become aggressive for numerous reasons, but ultimately they are the responsibility of their owners. If you or your child has been injured, a Texas Dog Bite Lawyer can help you protect your legal rights and recover the compensation you may be entitled to.

6 Important Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Accident

Being bitten by a dog is stressful and overwhelming. Unfortunately, like other types of trauma, many people are not prepared and do not know what they can do to preserve evidence and document their injuries. This legal guide explores what to do if a dog bites you, based on our many years of experience representing dog bite victims.

1. Get First Aid

A dog bite can be a serious injury, although that may not be immediately obvious based on how an injury initially looks. Initial dog bite first aid involves washing the bite area with soap and water, putting pressure on the wounds to stop bleeding, and covering the wound with a bandage.

Even minor bites can become infected by bacteria in the dog’s mouth. If a dog’s teeth break your skin, seek medical attention, no matter how insignificant or minor the injury looks.

2. Identify the Dog and Dog’s Owner

It is necessary to identify a dog’s owner if you will eventually be filing a civil claim for a dog bite injury. If it isn’t obvious who the dog belongs to, it may be helpful to contact law enforcement, who may dispatch police, as well as animal control, to locate the owner. If the owner is located, you should ask about the history of diseases, whether the dog has been vaccinated for Rabies, and if there are known prior bites/attacks.

The only way to be compensated for your injuries (medical care, lost wages, pain, and suffering), is to hold the dog owner accountable. This is typically covered by a renters or homeowners insurance claim.

3. Find the Witnesses

what to do after dog bite

If anyone witnessed the dog bite, record their full name and contact information. If you later proceed with a personal injury lawsuit or dog bite insurance claim, witness accounts can provide an accurate depiction of what occurred leading up to the attack, how long the attack lasted, and whether the attack was unprovoked.

4. Document Your Injuries

Take videos and photographs of your injury and damage to your clothing and the attack/accident scene, and write down the circumstances of the accident, while the details are still fresh. This should be a timeline narrative of events from your first encounter with the dog up to the attack, and details of the time, location, and how you or your child came to meet the dog and ultimately be injured. Describe the injury in as much detail as you can, including how the wound looks and feels, and how your injury affects you and requires adjustment and change in your daily routines.

5. File a Dog Bite Report

It may seem unnecessary to file a report with law enforcement if you know the dog’s owner (for example: the dog’s owner is a neighbor/relative), or if the injury is minor. However, reporting the dog bite to the police or local animal control documents your injury and records details about the incident. Reporting a dog bite does not mean that you are pressing charges, and can be essential should you later decide to pursue compensation.

6. Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer As Soon As Possible

As soon as possible following an injury, contact an experienced dog bite lawyer. An attorney can review your potential case, answer any questions you may have, and advise you of your best course of action. In the interest of preserving evidence and protecting your claim, it is always recommended to contact a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.

What Can a Dog Bite Cause?

what to do when a dog bites you

A dog bite can involve a leashed dog, or an unleashed dog, and may occur on public or private property. Dog bites can cause some common dog injuries that may not be obvious:

  • Abrasions;
  • Avulsion (skin or tissue torn away by the dog’s teeth);
  • Broken bones;
  • Lacerations;
  • Puncture wounds;
  • Tetanus.

If not cleaned and treated, dog bites can lead to serious infections. Even with medical attention, dog bites can cause permanent scars which may require plastic surgery. Dogs can also cause injury without actually biting, such as if a large dog knocks over someone and causes them to fall and suffer broken bones.

How Will I Pay for Medical Treatment and Recover Damages?

States have different laws that govern how claims are handled for dog bites and injuries resulting from animal attacks. Civil claims allow dog bite victims (and their families) to recover compensation for:

  • Accident-related medical expenses;
  • Future medical treatments, including plastic surgery;
  • Lost earnings due to being unable to work/needing to care for a family member;
  • Physical pain and emotional suffering.

What to Do After Your Dog Bites Another Dog

Dog bites sometimes occur when a dog is acting aggressively towards another dog. Below are some of the scenarios which may involve a dog bite:

If Your Dog Has Been Bitten

Although very traumatic, dog bite laws do not provide the same protections for injured dogs as they do to people victims of dog bites. You should document the incident, gather witness information, and report the dog bite. Keep track of all expenses you incur.

If Your Dog Bit Another Dog

what to do after a dog bite

If you know your dog is dangerous, you may have to comply with specific rules in your county or city, which may include spaying or neutering, and keeping your dog muzzled when it is off your property.

You may be sued in civil court - and potentially criminally court - if your dog attacks another person. If your dog bites another dog, you may be sued for resulting damages, including vet bills.

What to Do If a Dog Has Threatened You

If you have been chased by an aggressive dog or had a near-attack encounter, you should report the event to law enforcement. Even if no one was injured, the event should be documented. The dog owner may be required to take action if the dog is deemed potentially dangerous, including registering the dangerous dog, obtaining liability insurance, and complying with applicable municipal or county regulations, requirements, or restrictions.

Texas Dog Bite Laws

Texas, like other states, has specific laws that apply to dog bites and attacks. The majority of states (36) have cut and dry strict liability laws, or some variation of it, which state that any time a dog attacks, the owner of the dog is responsible for damage caused by their dog.

In Texas, the owner of the dog is not automatically responsible. Texas’ dog bite law can be found in Texas Health and Safety Code Section 822.041 - and is often informally referred to as a “one bite rule” - which does not mean that a dog gets “one free bite” even though this is sometimes implied.

In Texas, if a dog owner fails to secure a dangerous dog, and it makes an unprovoked attack outside of its secure area, the owner can be charged with a felony of the third degree.

What to Do When a Dog Bites You - Contact a Texas Dog Bite Lawyer

Although dog bite incidents are stressful and difficult situations, a personal injury claim can ease the financial burdens of a dog bite and allow victims to receive the medical care they deserve and get compensation for pain and suffering.

A Texas personal injury lawyer can be invaluable after being bitten by a dog in Texas - and can handle all claim communications and negotiate a fair settlement. If you have been injured, consult Brooks & Radchenko today for a free consultation.

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