Dog bites are no joke. The Medical Veterinary Medical Association reports that about 4.7 million people are bitten annually by dogs, and of those bites about 800,000 end up requiring medical treatment. Many of those bites involve children and result in very serious injuries. However, there is protection under the law for dog bite victims, so it is important to know what steps to take if you are one of the unfortunate people who are bitten.
Why Dog Bites Can Be Serious
Dog bites can be serious for several reasons, starting with the obvious danger of infection and disease, including rabies, MRSA, tetanus, and others. These infections can prove fatal if they are not properly cared for by a trained medical professional. In addition, a dog bite can also be disfiguring, especially if the dog bite affects the face. Dog bites can result in very painful nerve damage that is difficult to control. There are also psychological problems that can develop, such as a debilitating fear of dogs.
Pennsylvania Dog Bite Laws
The dog bite laws for the state of Pennsylvania are fairly clear about who is at fault when a dog bites someone. If the dog’s owner has violated the state’s or city’s confinement or leash laws, then the owner may be liable for any injuries their dog inflicts – even if their dog has no history of aggression. The owner may also be liable whether the injury occurs on public or private property and, again, this holds even if the dog has no history of aggressive behavior. However, if you were willfully trespassing (e.g., violating clear “No Trespassing” signs) or had injured or provoked the dog in any way, then you may be liable for your own injury under Pennsylvania laws.
Delaware Dog Bite Laws
Under Delaware law, dog owners are strictly liable if their dog attacks you regardless of their knowledge of the dogs prior history of aggression. However, the owner is not strictly liable if the injured party was trespassing, committing a crime against the owners property, committing a crime against a person, or tormenting/abusing the dog.
What to Do After You Are Bitten by a Dog
If you are bitten by a dog, you should immediately head to an emergency room or urgent care facility depending on the seriousness of your injuries. But regardless of which you choose, you need to get medical attention as soon as possible. You want to take all measures to prevent infection, receive stitches for especially serious wounds, and also document the nature of the injuries received. Official documentation from medical professionals is very important for any legal issues that may ensue.
Try to take a picture of the wounds before and after they have been treated. Additionally, you should call the police or local animal control. This is important to make sure a report is appropriately filed. Remember to obtain the incident report number for future reference.
Record the contact information for the dog’s owner and/or handler. Request proof of the dog’s rabies vaccination. If the dog is licensed and wearing a tag, request its tag information, also. Also record information about the dog: size, shape, color, whether or not it has a tail, and any other details that can be used to differentiate this dog from another.
You also want to record information about where the bite occurred, taking photos as needed. Take down the address or nearby cross streets, businesses, or landmarks that narrow down where the incident occurred. If possible, get the names and addresses of any known witnesses.
When to Contact a Lawyer
Without a lawyer’s knowledge regarding the laws involved and experience in negotiating personal injury cases, you will likely receive just a fraction of what you deserve under the law. Your damages you may include medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and any property damage that resulted from the incident.
Dog bites are frightening, and with good reason. If you are bitten, you should make sure to have contact information for the dog’s owner and any witnesses, as well as photographs of the injuries. Even if the bite does not seem serious, you should visit an emergency room or urgent care facility to prevent possible complications from infection as well as to document the nature of your injuries. You should also alert local animal control and police about the incident.
Sacchetta & Baldino
Sacchetta & Baldino are skilled, experienced trial lawyers who specialize in personal injury cases, including dog bites. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a dog bite or attack, our team of outstanding attorneys will fight for you to receive the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today to speak with a lawyer about your case.