It isn’t unusual for a dog to give you a harmless little “nip” while you are playing or just to let you know you are invading its space. But a dog bite attorney in San Diego knows that many dog bites are far from harmless. About 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs in this country each year and California is leading the way in claims. Orange County alone experiences more than four dog bites every day.
Dog bites may be minimal and merely cause a small break in the skin. On the other end of the spectrum, dog bites are part of an attack that can cause severe damage and disfigurement. Dog bites at any level of severity may require medical treatment and/or surgery with some of the most severe ones ending in death. The fact that is most surprising to many people is that all bites are not caused by strays. Some are caused by dogs owned by friends or relatives or even by a family’s own pet.
What to Do After You Are Bitten by a Dog in San Diego
The first steps you take after a dog bite will depend on the severity of the wound. The steps you take now will help prevent the damage from growing worse due to infection. Try to take pictures of your injuries as soon as you can. If the dog is a stray, focus on what the dog looked like, how big it was, and whether it was wearing a collar. Your description will help animal control find the right animal.
- Treat the Wound
If you are losing a lot of blood and can’t get it stopped, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Apply pressure to the wound using a clean towel to help slow the bleeding and try to keep the area elevated. You will also need emergency care if the wound is very deep. Damage may occur to soft tissue including organs or even to the bone.
Even a wound that is not bleeding will require medical care. If you are unable to get into your doctor’s office right away, go to an urgent treatment center or other emergency care facility. Punctures from a dog bite put you at risk of infection and they may be deep enough to require stitches to prevent scarring. Unfortunately, stitches increase the likelihood of infection.
It is easy to see that some dog bite wounds are severe. The damage to the surface of the skin, severe bleeding, pain, and swelling are some signs that serious damage may have occurred. But even a wound that doesn’t bleed or cause a lot of pain can be serious. When the dog’s teeth pierce the skin, they carry bacteria into the soft tissue below. In addition, the teeth can damage nerves, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, and bones. The true severity of any dog bite should be evaluated by a medical professional.
Prior to seeing a physician, there are some things you can do at home to reduce the risk of infection. Wash the area carefully with soap and water and apply antibiotic ointment daily.
- Gather Information
If anyone witnessed the attack, get their names and contact information. If you don’t know whose dog bit you, try to find out. If you know the owner, find out if the dog is current on its vaccinations, particularly for rabies. When domesticated dogs are not vaccinated against rabies, they are at risk of contracting the disease from wildlife such as raccoons, foxes, or bats. They can then pass the disease to you through a bite.
Ask the dog owner if they have home insurance and whether dog bites are covered. Find out their insurance company’s name and contact information. If they do not have home insurance or dog bites are not included in their coverage, getting compensation can be more challenging. You will need a dog bite attorney in San Diego who understands the dog bite laws and can explain your options to you.
Contact your local health department to report the bite. If you were bitten by a stray, you will also need to contact the local animal control office and the police. The dog will need to be found to prevent you from having to take a rabies vaccine and to keep other potential victims safe.
- Contact a Dog Bite Attorney in San Diego
Dog bites are unexpected and scary. It is especially difficult to know what to do when the dog belongs to a friend or family member. You should contact an experienced dog bite attorney immediately in spite of your concerns. Not only are dog bites painful, but they can become more expensive as time goes by.
Dog bites can result in permanent disfigurement or disabilities. Thousands of dog bites require plastic surgery to repair the damage they caused. The events can lead to trauma and extended physical and psychological treatment. Few victims of a dog bite can afford this extent of medical care without getting the compensation they deserve.
Significance of Rabies in the United States Today
Many people mistakenly believe that rabies is no longer a threat. Although rabies in domesticated animals has nearly been eradicated in the United States, preventive steps are still necessary. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention receives reports of one to three cases of human rabies each year. Of those, some have been transmitted while the person was in another country. Others are from animal bites other than dogs. Still, it is likely that as long as the risk of rabies exists, precautions will be taken to prevent the spread of the disease.
If the dog that bit you cannot be identified, you will need to receive rabies shots to prevent any risk of developing the disease. This type of preventive measure is the reason that the incidence of rabies has declined steadily in this country since the 1970s.
California dog bite laws require a dog that has bitten someone for the first time to spend ten days in quarantine. This is to ensure the animal is not infected with rabies. If the dog has bitten anyone else in the past, additional action will probably be taken. The dog bite laws in California are very complex. For example, if the dog was in possession of a dog walker and not an owner, the same laws do apply. You will need the advice of an experienced dog bite lawyer in San Diego to understand how the laws apply to your case.
What You Should Never Do After a Dog Bite in San Diego
It’s easy to brush off a minor bite, especially when the owner is someone close to you. But failing to treat any bite seriously could cause problems later on. Never assume a bite is minor until you have it examined by a doctor.
You will have two years from the date of the bite to file a lawsuit. Never take a wait-and-see approach that could cost you valuable time. The end result may be that you end up losing the right to compensation.
Don’t discuss who was at fault for the dog bite with the dog owner or their insurance company. If you assign fault now, proving fault will be even more difficult later on. Leave it to your dog bite attorney in San Diego to prove who was to blame.
Child Safety – The Most Frequent Victims of Dog Bites
Children are the most vulnerable to dog bites, accounting for about half of the reported cases overall. Dog bites to kids are also most likely to be extensive and require surgery and reconstructive procedures.
Children are smaller than adults which may cause dogs to feel like they are more powerful. Sometimes children play roughly with dogs, pulling on their tails or ears. Dogs may be afraid of the child’s behavior and strike out in fear. It is also possible that they feel their boundaries are being crossed. Stray dogs can also bite children when they are playing in their yard or coming home from the school bus.
To protect children, they should never be left alone in a room with any dog. Parents should supervise to prevent kids from doing things that hurt or annoy the dog. Adults are also more likely to understand the signs that a dog may be uncomfortable or afraid. Children under the age of six are even less likely to understand the guidelines they are expected to follow when around the family dog.
Children need to be given guidelines for dealing with strays as well. They should never approach an unfamiliar dog or run away and scream. Any dog that is sleeping, eating, or taking care of its puppies is more likely to respond negatively. Approach a dog carefully and let it sniff you before petting it. Keep in mind that many of the dog bites that occur are from dogs that have never bitten anyone before.
Where Dog Bites Are Most Likely to Happen
More than half of all dog bites occur on the dog owner’s property. In many cases, these bites occur to people who are already familiar with the dog. Dogs can even bite family members. It is difficult to always know the reason that a dog bites but the dog’s breed and training can play a role.
The Most Dangerous Breeds
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the following are the ten most dangerous breeds for biting most frequently.
- Pit Bulls
- German Shepherds
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Doberman Pincers
- Chow Chows
- Great Danes
- St. Bernards
Additionally, pit bulls and Rottweilers are the dogs that are most likely to kill. One of the best ways to protect your family members from dog bites is to choose the family pet carefully.
Dog Bite Statistics
The risk of getting a dog bite can’t be denied when you consider the statistics.
- Of the 4.7 million people bitten in the country each year, about 1,000 require emergency treatment
- About 9,500 are hospitalized
- Dog bites account for over one-third of homeowners insurance liability claims
- About 1 in 5 dog bites becomes infected
- The average cost of a dog-related hospital stay is more than $18,000
- Dog bite victims have more than $1 billion annually in monetary losses
Reasons You Should Contact an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney in San Diego Right Away
For many people who are bitten by a dog, the immediate expense is just the beginning. If you wait to see how extensive your medical treatment will be, you may lose your rights.
Once you have obtained legal advice and your claim is made, everything will be a matter of record. For more information on what to do if you are bitten, contact us for a complimentary consultation from a local experienced attorney