Being bitten or attacked by a dog can be a traumatic experience. The following article will provide some helpful information regarding what steps to take after being bitten by a dog and will also provide some additional steps to take if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner.
Steps to Take After Being Bitten by a Dog
If you get bitten by a dog, you should immediately take the following steps regarding wounds you have sustained:
- Stop the wound from bleeding by applying direct pressure to it with a clean, dry cloth.
- Wash the wound using mild soap and warm, running water. Make sure you rinse the bite for three to five minutes.
- Apply antibacterial ointment to the wound. This is crucial, as it can help reduce the risk for infection.
- Apply a dry, sterile bandage over the wound.
- If you were bitten on your neck, head, face, hand, fingers, or feet, call your health provider immediately.
There are some additional steps you should consider taking if you plan on filing a personal injury lawsuit for your injuries:
- Report the incident to your local animal control office or the police department (especially if you are unsure of whether the dog has a current rabies vaccination).
- If possible, before you leave the scene of the incident, get the name and contact information of the dog’s owner or the person who was in control of the dog at the time of the attack, as well as the contact information of anyone who may have witnessed the incident.
- Take photos of your injuries, if possible.
- Keep and do not wash any clothes you were wearing when the attack happened (this could be helpful later in court).
- Retain copies of any medical bills and receipts from any other dog bite-related expenses you have incurred.
- Write down everything you can remember about the incident, making a note of where it happened, who appeared to be in control of the animal, and what you did immediately before and after the attack.
- Consider hiring a personal injury attorney.
What You Need to Know About Georgia’s Dog Bite Laws
Before you decide whether to file a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owner, you must understand Georgia’s laws regarding dog bites (O.C.G.A. § 51-2-7). This statute states that Georgia does not hold a dog owner strictly liable for injuries his dog causes unless:
- The dog was in violation of a local ordination (for example, a leash law) at the time of the incident OR
- The Plaintiff is able to prove that:
- The dog had a dangerous propensity AND
- The dog owner knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities (for example, the dog owner witnessed the dog growling at passersby before the dog attacked)
It is also important to note that this statute has a comparative negligence element. This means that a dog owner will only be held strictly liable for the injuries suffered by the plaintiff if the evidence supports the fact that the plaintiff did not incite their own injuries. This means if the dog owner can show that you engaged in behavior (for example, petting the dog, teasing the dog, etc.) that contributed to your injuries, your potential damage award will be reduced to reflect this fact.