Millions of people have dogs that are as good as family members. The endless companionship that some dogs provide for the old and young is part of the lives of many Pennsylvania residents. Sadly, animal attacks have spoiled such special relationships for all those who endured the trauma of dog bites — many of them children.
Animals or their owners are not always the ones to blame for bites because dogs can react aggressively in some circumstances. If you antagonize or tease a dog, or threaten its owner or puppies, its reactions can be unpredictable.
However, if you are attacked without provocation, you may have grounds to sue the animal's owner.
What to do immediately after a dog attack
If the wounds are severe, you might need immediate medical care, which will make it a bit more difficult to gather information. However, if it is possible, taking the following steps before you leave the scene of a dog attack will help you to pursue financial relief later:
- Owner information: Record the information of the dog owner or its caretaker, including his or her name, contact details and address.
- Vaccination: It is essential to find out whether the dog's rabies vaccinations are current. Infection can quickly develop in puncture wounds, and prompt treatment is vital.
- Witnesses: The testimony of witnesses may be valuable in future legal proceedings. Gather contact details of anyone who can benefit your case in the court or with the insurance company.
- Report to animal control: Although this can wait until after medical treatment, it is important to report the incident to help protect others from attacks by this animal.
Taking steps to help your case
Taking notes does not stop at recording the dog owner's details. For a better chance to obtain comprehensive compensation for your losses, the following additional documentation may help:
- The incident: It might be months before your claim goes to court. To make sure all details remain fresh, you can write down the events as they happened before memories fade.
- Injuries: Make detailed notes of all the injuries and not only puncture wounds. This can include lacerations, scratches, bruises and more.
- Photos: Taking photos of all the injuries before medical treatment and at different stages of healing might motivate your claims. You could also keep a journal to accompany the images.
- The effects: Make detailed notes of the effects of the injuries, such as pain and suffering, compromised mobility and functionality, along with scarring.
- Financial and medical records: Gather all medical reports and bills along with documented proof of additional expenses, such as travel costs and lost income. All this information can help to put a value on the damages you incurred.
Seek legal counsel
Navigating a dog attack lawsuit can be challenging and you might be surprised to learn that some attorneys focus on such claims and they also have extensive experience in dealing with insurance companies. A Pennsylvania dog bite attorney can provide necessary support and guidance during negotiations with insurance adjusters or litigation in pursuit of a fair settlement.