Bitten By A Dog? Here’s All You Need To Know About Filing A Claim

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 11/15/22 •  4 min read
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Bitten By A Dog? Here's All You Need To Know About Filing A Claim

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One of the most commonly seen personal injury claims is a dog bite. There are over 63 million families that own dogs in the US, and although dogs have the potential to be man’s best friend, they can also be aggressive. In the US alone, over 4 million people are bitten by dogs every year. 

If you were bitten by a dog, there are several steps you should take right away. Unfortunately, many victims of dog attacks often hesitate to take these steps because they may be friends with the dog’s owner, afraid of them, or do not wish any harm to the animal. Regardless of your relationship with the dog or its owner, it is essential to follow these steps. 

Seek Medical Care

No matter how minor the injury may seem, you should always see a doctor if a dog has bitten you. Many complications can come from even a minor wound, with infection being the most common. 

It is critical to get checked out by a doctor within 24 hours of being attacked, as problems can quickly arise after that time. You may need to dial 911 to receive emergency medical attention if the bite is severe.

Collect Information 

If you know the dog’s owner, write down their name, address, and any other information you have. Collect their insurance information and, if possible, contact the insurance company directly. 

If you can, take pictures of the injury and document as much about the incident as possible. If there were witnesses, have them write down what they remember. Continue documenting the injury even as it heals, and note any time taken off work, medical bills, etc. Always keep a copy of all documentation for your records. 

File a Dog Bite Report 

Whether or not you intend to seek compensation for your injuries, you should still file a dog bite report with your local authorities. The easiest way is usually through your local animal control agency, although some states require it to be reported to the police or the public health division. 

Reporting a dog bite may help prevent future attacks from occurring. The owner may be required to take out special insurance along with other precautions to protect the public. 

If there has been a history of the dog biting people, the consequences can be extreme. If the dog has a history of aggressive or violent behavior, it may need to be put down to ensure the public’s safety. 

Determine Fault 

While in most instances, a dog’s owner is liable when their dog bites someone, there are certain circumstances where this may not be the case. There are many variables on a state-by-state basis, and doing some research in your state may determine whether or not it is worth your time to file a claim.

Some examples that can determine who is liable would be whether the attack was on public or private property, whether or not there was any signage up to warn people of the dog, whether the dog was provoked, and so on. 

File a Claim

While waiting and seeing how your injury fairs before filing a claim may be tempting, this is unwise. There are time restrictions when filing a claim for a dog bite, and the countdown begins when the attack occurs. The statute of limitations for a dog bite varies from state to state, ranging from 24 hours to six years. 

Once you have filed a claim with an insurance company, you should consult an attorney. At this point, you should have no more contact with the dog’s owner without a lawyer present. 

Final Thoughts

If you or someone you love has been bitten by a dog, filing a claim is an important first step in getting you the compensation you deserve. Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them, but millions of people are bitten by dogs yearly. 

Insurance companies will often pay for your medical bills or time missed from work and your pain and suffering, scarring, and emotional trauma. Be patient, and it will be worth it. 

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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!

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