What to Do After a Dog Bite, Treatment, and Legal Steps

Being attacked by a dog can be a scary and dangerous situation.  Unfortunately, most serious dog bites occur to children.  If you or a loved one is bitten by a dog, the first thing you should do is call 911 so the police and the appropriate medical personnel are sent to the scene.  Often dogs do not have a collar and may run away from the scene of an attack, so it is important that the police are called to investigate and determine who the dog owner is.  If the dog and its owner are not determined, then you may be looking at taking rabies shots if the rabbi status of the dog is not known.  The police will usually track down the dog owner and then ask for proof of rabies vaccination from the dog owner or the veterinarian of the dog.  Hopefully, it can be confirmed that the dog has been vaccinated because if not, then the dog will likely be quarantined to see if it exhibits rabbi's symptoms in order to assist in the determination of getting rabies shots. 

Besides your health, if the dog and/or its owner is not found then there will be no source for you to recover for your injuries.  Presuming that the owner of the dog is found, hopefully, the dog owner owns a home which should contain insurance coverage to provide you with compensation.  If they are not a homeowner, but rather rent, then hopefully they have purchased renters insurance covering the actions of their dog.  If the dog owner does not have insurance cover, then you will need to consider if they have assets that you can pursue and if it is worth the time and effort to do so. 

 

Medical Treatment and Care

Dog bite injuries can cause serious damage which may require the use of antibiotics, stitches, rabies shots, mental health counseling and eventually scar revision surgeries.  We discussed above the immediate rabies concern and how-to best deal with that.  Once you get past the rabies scare, then they can be physical and emotional scars to deal with.  If you or your loved one are having flashbacks to the attack, difficulty sleeping, anxiety and/or fear of dogs then it is a good idea to go see a qualified mental health counselor.  It is better to do this sooner rather than later because you want to treat the mental issues right away. 

From a medical standpoint, after stitches are removed there may be some scarring.  Your doctors will likely instruct you to avoid the sun and if you are in the sun to use sunscreen in order to help the scar heal properly.  If after 6 to 12 months the scar is still visible and it bothers you, then it is a good idea to obtain a consultation with a plastic surgeon.  There are a number of different scar revisions procedures available including the use of lasers, chemicals, etc. that can lessen the appearance of the scar. 

 

Legal Steps

Iowa has strict liability for dog bite injuries and to recover you must prove that a dog attacked and/or bit you subject to very few exceptions.  As discussed above, this is why it is so important to promptly identify the owner of the dog.  If the dog owner has insurance coverage, then your claim should be submitted to the dog owner's insurance company.  The insurance company will assign an insurance adjuster to your case who will likely want to speak with you and to see pictures of your injury.  The adjuster may ask for a recorded statement which is usually not a good idea for you to provide.  Generally, if your injuries are minor then there is not a problem with providing the adjustor with the general information about your injuries, your age, etc.  However, if you or a loved one has been seriously injured then you may want to consider talking to an attorney before you speak with the insurance adjustor.  The insurance adjuster may be nice to you, but keep in mind that their job is to represent the dog owner and to pay you as little as possible to close your claim.  The insurance adjuster is not your friend and is not looking out for your best interests. 

A qualified Iowa dog bite attorney can help guide you through the process so you can avoid making a costly mistake.  The legal steps after hiring an attorney vary, but once you hire an attorney, he/she will be your advocate and deal with the insurance adjuster on your behalf.  Your attorney will be there to answer your questions, protect your rights and make sure you receive the compensation that you should receive for your injuries. 

You may be wondering, "Do I need an attorney in my dog bite case?" "What will it cost me to hire an attorney?" "How will I know if what the insurance company offers me is fair?"  If you have one or more of these questions then you should request our book entitled “Iowa Consumer’s Guide to Dog Bites - 5 Insider’s Secrets to Not Get Bitten by Your Case” which is available to you at no cost or obligation by visiting www.IowaDogBiteBook.com or by calling 800-707-2552 ext. 613 (24 hours recorded message). 

Our Iowa Dog Bite book is offered to you at no cost because we have represented hundreds of injured Iowans including many Iowans bitten by dogs and unfortunately seen many make costly avoidable mistakes.  We have also seen cases where insurance companies take advantage of people who do not know how much their case is worth or how the system works.  Iowans bitten and attacked by dogs are beginning to realize that the dog owner and their insurance company is not there to help them. Finally, there is an Iowa Dog Bite book you can review in the comfort of your own home with no pressure. If you would like immediate assistance feel free to call 641-792-3595 and ask for Corey or Erik.  We have 4 fully staffed offices in central Iowa including Des Moines, Ankeny, Newton, and Marshalltown, but also have by appointment only offices throughout the state of Iowa. 

Corey Walker
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With over 20 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.