Dog Bite Attacks
While dogs are typically known to be “man’s best friend,” this stereotype can be misleading and inaccurate because it implies that dogs have human-like traits, friendly, non-aggressive, and trustworthy, even to acquaintances or strangers. Yet, in truth dogs are only as friendly and safe as their breed and/or how their owners have taught them to be.
What should you do if a dog bites or injures you or a loved one?
- Call the police or local Animal Control to report the incident. Give detailed information about the dog, the location of the attack, things that you think may have allowed the dog or caused the dog to become aggressive with you. For example, was the dog in a yard and jumped a ran out to the sidewalk or road to attack? Was the dog leashed and attended by a person at the time of the attack? Remember these details and write them down at home, even if you told these facts to the authorities. Police and animal control officers normally do not write down everything you tell them, so it is important that you do it yourself in case you need to have the information later. This will ensure that you have made a complete record of the occurrence.
- Immediately have your injuries observed and treated by a physician or hospital. Make sure you tell them exactly what happened so that you reiterate what you told the authorities about the incident. You should be checked not only for injuries, but if the dog has been quarantined by the authorities, you may have to undergo preventative care for rabies infection. In addition, if your injuries cause deep or extensive wounds, you should have a plastic surgeon do any stitching. This can avoid future scars, which can be very costly or impossible to remove.
- Take pictures of all your injuries. Go back to the scene of the occurrence and take photos or videos of the dog in question. Look for any beware of dog signs, or lack of them. Look for ways the dog was able to gain access to you, particularly if you were attacked while off the owner’s land.This will ensure that there is no mistake about which dog caused the harm. Share this information with the authorities. Keep copies of all evidence you accumulate.
- If possible, telephone the dog owner about the incident in a non-threatening way. Ask if they have insurance and get that information, including name of insurer, their agent, and claims contact numbers. Also, ask about the dog and whether it has ever done this kind of thing before. This may not result in much information, but many times the owner is so shocked that they will volunteer information that will later prove your case. NOTE. Do not contact the owner if you feel it is unsafe to do so.
- Do not throw away any torn or destroyed property that may have occurred because of the attack. This evidence will help establish the kind and severity of bite or attack. For example, some dogs bite as a warning and then let go, usually not inflicting much serious harm. Other bites where a dog latches on and shakes you, commonly known as a “kill shake” can leave damage to clothes and your body. Bag the clothes and do not wash them. Take pictures before bagging and take pictures of your wounds.
- Call a lawyer who has handled dog attack cases. They can explain to you that you do not have to actually have been viciously attacked in order to be compensated for harm done to you. For example, if a rambunctious dog chases you and causes you to fall and be hurt, you may be able to recover money. If a dog playfully knocks you down and you are hurt, you may recover. It all depends on what the owner knows about the character of the dog or any past incidents of a similar nature. Remember, dog owners are responsible for their dog’s behavior, both on and off their properties.
- A lawyer can explain to you that you may be able to recover money for your medical bills, any time off from work, future inability to work, and pain and suffering, including physical and emotional difficulties incurred from the incident.
- The law has changed in respect to dog attacks. Some states have strict liability laws that require the dog owner to pay for any harm it causes. Other states require that the owner be negligent in some fashion for failing to restrain their dog. You need the advice of a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to help you understand your rights.
- While some homeowner’s insurance covers dog attacks, not all do. In addition, most people who rent homes do not have homeowner’s insurance to pay for your harms. However, a landlord of a dog may be held liable if the landlord is aware of the dog’s character, particularly if the landlord fails to make his or her property safe for persons to come onto the property safely in light of, say, a vicious dog running loose on their land.
- Do not wait to do all of the things mentioned here. The longer you wait, the less likely you will have the chance to recover money or save yourself from future difficulties.
- If you are contacted by a dog owner’s insurance company after the incident, and this usually happens within days, you need to know that they will want to take a recorded statement from you which they will use against you if you bring a claim or lawsuit for money against the dog owner. DO NOT give a statement. Simply tell them that until you are done treating, you have nothing to say. Also, they will ask you to provide them with the authorization which would allow them to obtain all your medical files, even those which do not relate to the dog incident. DO NOT do this. Again, simply let them know that you will share information with them when you are done treating. Then, pick up the phone and call a lawyer who handles dog bites and make an appointment in order to determine what rights and remedies you may have.
Call us before making a statement or signing any settlement form.
Before you make a statement to an insurance company representative or sign any type of settlement agreement
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Medford, Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys at the Law Offices of Black, Chapman, Petersen & Stevens represent clients throughout Oregon and Northern California, including but not limited to the residents of Jackson County, Josephine County, Klamath County, Coos County, Curry County, Douglas County, Lane County, Deschutes County, Lake County, Del Norte County, Siskiyou County, Modoc County, Humbolt County, Trinity County, Shasta County and Lassen County. If you or a loved one has been injured contact an attorney who specializes in dog bites today.
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