Your Legal Rights After a Dog or Cat Bite

There are many dangerous pets but the owners never seem to think they truly are a threat. That poses a problem for those who live nearby. They may already be frightened of the animal, but think it’s contained, or they may live in fear that the animal will one day attack. Even so, there’s not much the law will do about it, so long as the animal is kept inside a fence or on a chain.

It’s a sad thing when you have to actually wait until someone gets hurt before something is done about a dangerous animal. That’s usually the case, though, since there are no laws to protect you from what an animal may or may not do in the future.

If you are bitten by someone else’s animal the first thing to do is to take a mental picture of the animal, where the attack occurred, what you were doing, etc. You will be expected to recite this to the proper authorities. If the wound is small, immediately wash it well with soap and water, then seek medical help. If the wound is large, go directly to the hospital.

If you are bitten in the face, you’ll need to insist upon a plastic surgeon. The cost is not yours to pay and emergency room doctors are not generally known for their handiwork in such matters. Make sure you follow the doctor’s orders to the letter since, if you sue, the dog owner’s attorney may try to make it look like you were negligent, meaning they might imply that you didn’t follow the instructions, thereby causing the scars to be worse.

Don’t automatically assume that you’ll need rabies shots after the bite. If rabies are not a threat in your region, they may not be recommended. Usually, the dog is captured and tested for rabies before the victim is informed as to whether or not he will need the rabies vaccine – if the animal is caught within a reasonable amount of time.

If the dog owner is insured, and you receive a call from the insurance company, ask specifics like name, address and phone number of the company, and the entire name of the person that holds the policy. Also ask how much money is available to pay just the medical costs.

Do not discuss money or payments of any kind with the insurance agent. Refuse to be recorded, should the company ask you. Do not allow a photograph unless it’s from your own attorney. Do not accept a payment or settlement from the insurance company until you’ve spoken with an attorney.

As soon as possible hire a lawyer. Dog bite cases can be complicated, since the victim can be entitled to everything from cosmetic surgery expenses to lost wages. To achieve these settlements, however, it must be proven – possibly in court – that the owner’s dog is actually the one that caused the damage. Try to find an attorney that has handled at least one or two dog bite cases. It can be difficult to prove the particular dog bit you if it happened while you were alone.

Many people make the mistake of settling with an insurance company, or dog owner, without an attorney. This can end up costing more in the long run. Some people don’t experience the full effect of the dog bite until later. You could, depending upon the type of bites, experience later headaches, nerve damage or worse. And, without a good attorney, you could be faced with paying some of the medical expenses yourself.

Upon being bitten by any animal, seek medical attention immediately, make sure they or you inform the county officials, and hire a good attorney to be compensated for at least the medical expenses. You could, though, be entitled to a whole lot more.

If you’re a pet owner never assume your dog or cat won’t bite. Keep your animals contained in your own home or yard, and make sure they get their rabies vaccinations regularly. Keep in mind, too, that you can be sued if your pet bites someone while they’re visiting in your home.

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