In spite of the fact that they are commonly known as "man's best friend," dogs can and do attack. They are animals, subject to instinct and to abuse or improper training by their owners. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur in the U.S. each year. 800,000 of these attacks require medical attention. 386,000 require emergency treatment and approximately 16 lead to the death of the victim. In view of these statistics, it is easy to see why dog bites are such an important area of our firm's practice. Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik, LLP represents those who have been bitten or otherwise injured by dogs, helping them seek justice and financial compensation for the injuries they have suffered.
Tips for Avoiding an Attack
There are several steps you can take both as a dog owner and as a person dealing with an unfamiliar dog in order to reduce the likelihood of an attack. Most of these principles are based upon the fact that dogs are animals that may give in to instinct in certain scenarios.
- If you are considering getting a dog, do your research. Ask your veterinarian or other professional about the types of breeds that will be suitable for your particular lifestyle, including where you live and whether you have children.
- Spend time with a dog before purchasing or adopting it. This is particularly true with adolescent or adult dogs, as they may have already developed bad habits or been subjected to abuse, etc.
- Never leave a baby or young child alone with a dog. Always supervise children when they are playing with a dog.
- Properly socialize and train your dog. Teach your dog submissive behaviors and do not play aggressive games with your dog that may teach him or her to play rough.
- If you encounter an unfamiliar dog, use caution. Do not pet or approach the dog without the owner's consent. Allow the dog to see and smell you first. If you are approached by an unfamiliar dog, do not run away or make sudden movements. Remain where you are. If the dog attacks you and knocks you over, roll into a ball, remaining still.
- Do not disturb a dog when it is sleeping, eating, caring for puppies or playing with a toy. Be particularly careful when approaching a dog on its own territory.
- Teach children proper techniques for dealing with both familiar and unfamiliar dogs. Half of dog bite victims requiring medical care are children.
What should I do if bitten by a dog?
If you are bitten, knocked over, attacked or injured by a dog in any way, it is important to take the following steps as soon as possible:
Seek medical attention. Even if your injuries seem minor, if you suffered a puncture wound you may be at risk of infection. Some other injuries, like head trauma or back injuries, may seem minor at first but may end up having a serious impact on your life. Go to the emergency room or visit your doctor and inform the attending nurse or physician that you have been attacked by a dog.
Identify the dog and its owner. You will need to determine who owns the dog if you are to recover financial compensation for your injuries. If you do not immediately recognize the dog, you may be able to learn its identity by asking people in the neighborhood or even by getting in touch with the local animal control agency.
Gather as much information and evidence as you can. Get the contact information of the dog owner as well as the information of any witnesses who saw what occurred. Take pictures of your injuries, the dog, the owner and any other pertinent evidence. Keep detailed notes of your recollection of the events leading up to the attack. Keep any and all medical records and receipts for purchases you make related to the incident and your injuries, such as invoices from your doctor or receipts for medication, medical supplies, etc.
Contact an attorney. A legal professional who handles dog bite cases in your area will be able to determine whether the dog owner can be held liable and can assist you in taking the proper steps to seek compensation for medical care, future medical expenses, lost earnings, future loss of earnings, pain and suffering. Depending on the case, the dog owner's home owner's insurance policy may cover your damages. Your attorney can also look to other sources of compensation.