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Dog Bite? What to Do

Causing over 385,000 trips to the emergency room every year, and roughly 16 deaths, dog bites are one of the leading causes of hospitalization and personal injuries in the United States. The state of Florida takes dog bites very seriously, and retains a strict liability rule to hold dog owners accountable for bites inflicted by their dogs.

If you have been bitten by a dog, your first step should be to seek medical attention immediately to prevent infection, bodily harm, and other further injuries. After that? Here is what to do if you are the victim of a dog bite and believe you may have a personal injury claim.

Step 1: Documentation

To preserve your ability to make a personal injury claim later, documentation is extremely important. Be sure to copy and save all relevant medical records as well as any other documentation pertaining to the dog bite incident. If possible, take photos and keep records of any emotional harm, such as trauma, increased stress, etc., as dog bite incidents can be extremely traumatic events, particularly for children. Also consider whether you are able to photograph the area in which the bite took place, any signs indicating that the dog was dangerous, and any measures used to keep the dog away from unsuspecting potential victims.

Step 2: Report

In almost every jurisdiction, there is an agency that provides animal control and handles the processing of dangerous animal claims. After securing medical attention, and in accordance with acquiring additional documentation, report the bite to animal control or to police depending on your location. In your report, you may benefit from being able to list the names and addresses of witnesses, the dog owner, and, if applicable, the individual who had custody of the dog at the time of the bite. While most hospitals are required to make reports of dog bites, reports generated by hospitals are often intended to simply register statistics on injuries and disease development rather than providing information or documentation for personal injury claims later.

Step 3: Get Assistance

After reporting the incident, you may receive a call from an insurance company representative of the dog owner. If you do, be sure to ask for the name of the insurance company, the company’s address and telephone number, the claim number assigned to your claim, the name of the person holding the insurance policy, and the amount of money available to pay medical expenses. However, do not discuss money, payments, settlements, or injury values. Avoid setting up appointments or being tape-recorded, and do not accept any payments or money. Instead, seek out a qualified dog bite lawyer.

Not every lawyer has experience navigating dog bite cases, but at Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian, Lawyers and Counselors at Law, lawyers with specific experience in dog bite claims are available. If you, your child, or a loved one has sustained a dog bite or you believe you or they may have a personal injury claim, call toll-free at 1 (800) 227-2275 for a consultation today in Tampa.

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