dogs off leash in park playing and bitingYour dog might be your best friend, but a stranger’s dog is no friend to you—or to your children. In fact, the very qualities that we love about dogs—loyalty, courage, and protectiveness—are the ones that make them dangerous to any perceived threat against their owner or handler. If you are bitten by a dog, however, it can be difficult to determine who is liable for your damages.

The premises liability attorneys at Peterson & Associates welcome dog bite cases and would be happy to hear your story to help you figure out whether you have a liability claim—and who might be held responsible. After a dog attack, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

What to Do After a Missouri Dog Bite Injury

Dog bites can be traumatic experiences, and knowing the appropriate steps to take afterward is crucial for both medical treatment and potential legal considerations.

Treat the Dog Bite Wound

Your first priority should be the well-being of the dog bite victim. Before worrying about whose fault the attack was, take the following steps to take care of the injury.

  1. Control bleeding. If the bite causes bleeding, use a clean cloth or sterile bandage to apply gentle pressure to the wound. Elevate the injured area to help minimize bleeding.
  2. Clean the wound. Wash the bite wound gently with soap and warm water to reduce the risk of infection. Avoid using harsh chemicals, as they may irritate the wound.
  3. Apply an antibiotic ointment. After cleaning, apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to the wound to reduce the risk of infection. Cover it with a clean bandage.
  4. Seek medical attention. For serious injuries, deep wounds, or signs of infection (redness, swelling, or increasing pain), seek immediate medical attention. Dog bites can carry the risk of bacterial infection, and prompt medical care is essential.
  5. Update tetanus shot. Ensure that your tetanus vaccination is up to date. Dog bites can introduce bacteria into the body, and a tetanus shot may be necessary if your last vaccination was more than five years ago.

Determine If You Have a Legal Claim for Damages

Once you have applied first aid and any necessary follow-up medical treatment, you can take a few steps to figure out if you have a claim for damages against the dog’s owner or the property owner where the attack occurred. If possible, do the following:

  1. Identify the dog and owner. Determine who the dog belongs to and note the owner's contact information. This is crucial for both medical and legal purposes.
  2. Document the incident. Take pictures of the bite wound and the location where the incident occurred. Document any visible injuries and gather information from any witnesses present.
  3. Report the incident. Report the dog bite to local animal control or law enforcement. They can help identify the dog, assess the situation, and take appropriate action to prevent future incidents.
  4. Seek legal advice. Consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in dog bite cases. They can provide guidance on your rights, potential liability, and the steps to take for compensation if necessary.

In the aftermath of a dog bite, a combination of prompt medical treatment and information-gathering is crucial for both adults and children. By following these guidelines, individuals can protect their health, ensure proper documentation of the incident, and take necessary legal actions to address any potential liability. Remember, seeking professional medical and legal advice is always recommended to navigate the complexities of dog bite cases.

What Can a Premises Liability Lawyer Do After a Dog Attack?

Dog bite legal claims fall under the area of personal injury law known as premises liability. A premises liability attorney can play a crucial role in helping you navigate the legal complexities and obtain compensation after being bitten by someone else's dog. Here are several ways a dog bite attorney can assist you.

Offering Legal Knowledge

Dog bite laws can vary by jurisdiction, and a skilled attorney has a comprehensive understanding of the relevant statutes and legal precedents. They can provide guidance on how these laws apply to your specific case.

Determining Liability

Establishing liability is a key aspect of dog bite cases. A dog bite attorney can investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident to determine who is legally responsible for the dog's behavior. This may include the dog owner, property owner, or another responsible party.

Filing Insurance Claims

Many homeowners and renters' insurance policies cover dog bite liability. An attorney can assist in dealing with insurance companies, ensuring that you understand your rights, and negotiating with the insurance provider to secure fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

Gathering Medical Documentation

Gathering and presenting thorough medical documentation is essential in a dog bite case. An attorney can help you compile evidence of your injuries, medical treatments, and related expenses to build a strong case for compensation.

Negotiating With the Opposing Party

Dog bite cases often involve negotiations between your attorney and the opposing party's legal representatives and insurance companies. An experienced attorney can effectively negotiate on your behalf to reach a fair settlement without the need for a lengthy and costly court battle.

Filing a Lawsuit

If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, a dog bite attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf. They will guide you through the legal process, ensuring that all necessary documents are filed correctly and deadlines are met.

Representing You in Court

If your case goes to court, your attorney will represent you during legal proceedings. They will present evidence, argue your case, and advocate for your rights in front of a judge and jury.

Understanding Damages

Dog bite victims may be entitled to various types of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. A dog bite attorney can help you understand what damages you may be eligible for and work to maximize your compensation.

Contingency Fee Arrangement

Many personal injury attorneys, including those specializing in dog bite cases, work on a contingency fee basis. This means they only get paid if you receive compensation, making legal representation more accessible to those who may not have the financial means to pay upfront legal fees.

Hiring a dog bite attorney can significantly benefit individuals who have been bitten by someone else's dog. From legal expertise to negotiating with insurance companies and representing you in court, an attorney can guide you through the legal process and work to secure the compensation you deserve.

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