Being attacked by a strange dog or other animal can be a frightening experience that can leave you facing a painful recovery period and mounting medical debt. In the first few minutes following an animal attack, it’s helpful if you can keep a cool, level head and carefully document the incident. Ultimately, it can help strengthen your case in the event that you decide to pursue compensation for your injuries.
10 Actions to Take Immediately If You’re Attacked
There are short-term and long-term steps you should take after an animal attack if you plan to sue for damages. Here is a brief look at some recommended actions following an attack:
Photograph the animal. An animal's owners may say their pet would never attack someone and indicate that another similar-looking animal was the culprit. However, don’t let a case of mistaken identity derail your personal injury claim. If you can, use a digital camera or the camera feature on your cell phone to take a quick photo of the animal that attacked you.
- Identify the animal and its owner. Once you've photographed the animal in question, locate its owners and write down their names and contact information. If the owners are insured, take down additional information such as the name of their insurance company and the telephone number for their local insurance office.
- Get contact information from witnesses. If the animal attack occurred in a public place, there may be people who witnessed the attack who can provide information or speak on your behalf in future legal proceedings. Ask all witnesses for their full name, as well as their telephone number, mailing address, and email address, so that you or your legal representative can contact them at a later date, if necessary.
- Gather photographic evidence. The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is particularly true in personal injury cases. Photos of the scene of the accident and photos of your injuries can provide your legal team with valuable information that can help build and strengthen your claim. Make sure to take photos of anything at the scene that seems relevant, and photograph your injuries both before and after treatment.
- Seek medical treatment. Animal bites can cause serious infections, so it’s important to seek medical treatment for your injuries. If your injuries are very serious, call 911 and allow EMS personnel to treat them at the scene or transport you to the hospital. If your injuries are less serious, have a friend or loved one drive you to the emergency room or an urgent care facility. When you see the doctor, make sure to mention that you sustained your injuries in an animal attack, so that the doctor knows to document that information in your medical records.
- File a report with the appropriate authorities. File an incident report with the agency that handles animal control for your area. Depending on your location, this may be a police or sheriff's office or a dedicated Animal Control division. While filing a report may seem like a hassle, legally documenting the incident is essential if you plan to pursue compensation for your injuries.
- Avoid accepting or placing blame. What you say at the scene of the accident can impact your legal case. While it's natural to want to apologize for actions or attempt to place blame for what happened, it's best not to do either.
- Refuse to accept money or discuss financial settlements. In the initial moments after an animal attack, the animal's owner may panic and attempt to offer you money to handle the matter privately. Refuse to accept any money offered, and avoid discussing any possible financial settlements. Such discussions are best handled by your legal representative.
- Save your clothing. The clothing you were wearing when the animal attack occurred may contain valuable clues such as blood or the placement of bites or scratches. Resist the urge to simply toss them in the trash when you get home. Instead, place the clothing into a plastic zipper bag to preserve any evidence they may contain.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A personal injury lawsuit can be a challenge, particularly in complex dog bite or animal attack cases. That's why it’s helpful to seek representation from a skilled attorney who has experience handling such cases. The knowledgeable legal team at the Inland Empire Law Group has handled numerous dog bite and animal attack injury cases and can help you fight for compensation for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, or pain and suffering related to your experience. Contact our law offices in Victorville or Rancho Cucamonga today.