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Let Loose the Dogs: The 5 Most Important Steps You Need to Take After a Dog Bite

Sometimes our lovable canine companions forget that proverbial adage: Never bite the hand that feeds you….or, the neighbor’s hand….or, the mailman. Whether you are a recent victim of an unexpected canine attack or the owner of a dog who recently unleashed its instinctive fury on an unsuspecting victim, there are a number of things to remember in the immediate aftermath of a dog bite incident. Of course, working with a competent and experienced San Francisco personal injury attorney should always come to mind as you consider your options moving forward.

#5 Seek Immediate Medical Care

It really goes without saying, but dogs can carry rabies, cause infections and cause dastardly damage to your skin and bones. Regardless of whether you are the victim or the dog owner, the preeminent concern following attack is the health and safety of all individuals involved. Dog attacks can range from mild to fatal and should be treated with extreme care and concern. Depending upon the severity of the injuries, immediate treatment is often necessary to avoid infection and reduce the risk of scarring. If the victim is severely injured, an emergency response team should be summoned in order to reach medical care as quickly as possible. If it is your dog who is the victim of attack, be sure to take Fido to an emergency veterinary clinic right away – don’t delay!

#4 Summon the Police

Many people mistakenly believe the police have better things to do than deal with man’s best friend. On the contrary, involving the police can be a smart and tactical move in consideration of any upcoming litigation. One of the best reasons to involve law enforcement in a dog bite incident is to memorialize the facts of the incident in as short a time period as possible following the actual occurrence. This way, witness’ memories are most sharp and you will be able to relay the event with as much specificity as possible. If you are the dog owner and witnessed the attack, make sure to inform the officer as to any of the following facts, as some could prove helpful in your defense:

  • Whether the dog was tethered at the time of the attack;
  • Did the attack occur on your private property and, if so, was the victim lawfully on your property;
  • Whether the victim engaged in conduct immediately prior to the attack that could be considered antagonizing or “teasing” the animal;
  • Whether your dog has a history of attacking other people or animals.

#3 Alert the Vicious and Dangerous Dog Unit

The San Francisco Police Department maintains a Vicious and Dangerous Dog Unit which monitors incidents involving menacing or aggressive dogs. Victims of dog attacks may wish to request a Vicious and Dangerous Dog Hearing wherein a hearing officer will decide an appropriate remedy for the dog and its owner. The officer may require your pooch to attend obedience training, wear a muzzle, or remain in a safety cage.  Owners may be required to attend training courses to help better control the animal as well.

#2 Keep Track of Medical Expenses and Gather Other Documents

If you are the victim of a dog attack, keeping track of medical expenses is vital if you plan to file a personal injury lawsuit against the owner or handler of the dog. This includes prescription medication, hospital stays, ambulance rides and everything in between. Make sure to save every invoice you receive both from your healthcare provider and your insurance carrier as these documents could serve as pivotal evidence of your money damages at a subsequent trial or settlement negotiation.

If you are the victim, make sure you gather other evidence to support your cause of action for personal injury. We recommend compiling photographs of your injuries immediately after the attack and during your recovery period. If you were forced to miss work due to your injury, you may be able to recover lost wages and should gather documents supporting the amount of wages you lost as a result of the attack.

#1 Contact a Reputable San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney

Dog attacks are a serious and growing problem in the San Francisco area. If you were recently involved in a personal injury situation involving man’s best friend, the Law Offices of Nelson T. Berry, III can assist you in preparing your case and reaching the best possible outcome. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call for a free consultation today: (415) 587-0550.

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