While most dogs are friendly, loving companions, some are dangerous. If you’re bitten by a dog, you may incur high medical bills and lose wages from time off work to heal. After a bite, you need to take certain steps to make sure you receive the proper care and have everything you need in place if you decide to seek compensation through the legal system.
Get Medical Attention
The most important thing to do after a dog bite is to seek prompt medical attention. Even if you don’t think the injury is serious, dog bite wounds can become infected quickly. Some dogs aren’t fully vaccinated, so have a medical professional treat your wound to determine if you need additional treatment to protect against rabies and other serious infections or illnesses.
Take clear photos of your wounds from multiple angles immediately after the bite, if possible, so you can document the extent of your injuries before any medical treatment.
Obtain Contact Information for the Owner and Witnesses
Ask the dog’s owner or handler for their contact information, including their full name, address, and phone number, right after the incident. This will help you and any medical professionals you see verify the animal’s veterinary history, including vaccination dates.
If there were any witnesses, ask them for their contact information as well. They could provide important information if you decide to seek legal compensation since Illinois dog bite law requires the injured party to show that the dog attacked the injured person in a place where the person had a lawful right to be and that the dog was not provoked into attacking.
Report the Bite to Authorities
One mistake people often make after suffering a dog bite is failing to report the bite to the proper authorities. Always report any injury caused by an animal to the police and your local animal control agency. The reports will provide you with outside verification of the incident and animal control will conduct an investigation that could prevent the dog from injuring someone else.
Sometimes dog owners will ask an injured person not to contact the authorities and insist that they’ll pay for any medical bills to prevent an investigation that could lead to the dog being removed from their care. Report your injuries regardless of what the owner says or asks to protect yourself and your ability to prove your case if you seek damages.
Keep Thorough Documentation
The best thing you can do to increase your chances of winning a dog bite case is to keep thorough records. Document the date, time, and place of the attack and write down a thorough account of the incident as soon as you can while your memory is fresh.
Note what you were doing at the time of the bite, where the dog was, whether the dog was restrained, and any other details you can think of, even if you’re not sure they’re relevant. Ask any medical professionals you see for dated records that include descriptions of any treatments you receive. Keep detailed records of any expenses you incur and any losses you suffer from time off work.
Include any property damage in your records if the attack resulted in damage to a vehicle or any personal belongings. Take pictures of your wounds at every stage of the healing process and note the date for each photo.
Seek Legal Counsel
If you’ve decided to seek compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost income, property damage, or pain and suffering, it’s best to speak with a personal injury attorney experienced in dog bite cases as soon as possible. The statute of limitations for dog bites in Illinois is two years, which means you have two years after the incident to file a lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury, contact us today for a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your case.