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Free Case Assessment! Dog Bite Accidents: Steps to Take After My Dog Bit Someone

What Happens If My Dog Bites Someone?

Dogs are valuable members of our families, bringing companionship, and unconditional love to our lives. Yet, in rare cases, even the most well-behaved dogs can exhibit unexpected behaviors, such as biting or nipping. If your dog nipped someone, it can be a distressing and confusing experience. 

So what should you do in such situations? If you are unaware of the steps that must be immediately taken if you are one of those panicking people saying “my dog bit someone”

In this comprehensive guide, we will look into the crucial steps to take if your dog bites someone.

My Dog Bit Someone - What Should I Do?

Many people question, “my dog nipped someone” in my home, what should i do? Or if my dog bites someone will it be put down?  In the event your dog bites someone, it’s essential to take immediate action. Follow these steps to address the situation effectively:

  • Secure Your Dog: Safely restrain your dog to prevent any further harm. 
  • Provide Contact Information: Share your name and contact details with the injured person. 
  • Offer Assistance: Extend your help to facilitate the injured person’s access to medical care. 
  • Document the Incident: Take clear photographs of the scene, the injuries sustained, and any relevant details. Documentation can be valuable for legal and insurance purposes. 
  • Gather Witnesses: If there were witnesses to the incident, collect their names and contact information. Their testimonies may be valuable if legal issues arise. 
  • Notify Authorities: Depending on your local regulations, you may need to report the incident to animal control or other relevant authorities.

Who's Liable for a Dog-Related Injury?

Numerous people visit the ER in a day with the same emergency “my dog nipped someone” or “my dog bit someone”. When an unfortunate incident occurs, and you get to know my dog bit someone, questions about liability naturally arise. So, can I be sued if my dog bites someone?

As a responsible dog owner, you hold a duty to ensure the safety of others when it comes to your furry friend. The legal concept of “strict liability” often applies in cases of my dog biting someone. This means that even if your dog has never shown any aggressive behaviors before, you can still be held accountable for the injuries caused.

Liability extends to various scenarios, including incidents that occur in public spaces or even on your property. If you get to know “my dog bit someone”, you could potentially face legal consequences. 

However, homeowners’ insurance policies often cover dog-related injuries, but it’s crucial to review your policy to understand any potential exclusions.

The extent of liability can be influenced by local laws, which may vary widely depending on your region. In some areas, a “one-bite rule” might be in place. It implies that if your dog has never displayed aggressive behavior before, you might have some leniency. 

However, even in these cases, if you were aware of your dog’s aggressive tendencies and failed to take adequate precautions, you could still be held responsible if the dog bit someone.

To answer the pressing question – yes, you can indeed be sued if your dog bites someone. Legal action might be taken against you to cover medical expenses, rehabilitation, pain, and suffering.

Dog Bite Levels

Dog bites are not a one-size-fits-all scenario. They range from a minor nip, where the skin isn’t broken, to severe bites causing deep wounds. Minor nips might not seem alarming, but they can grow if the underlying issue isn’t addressed promptly. Let’s look at the details in-depth:

Aggressive but no skin contact

In this level, the dog displays aggressive behavior such as growling, snarling, or snapping, but there is no actual physical contact between the dog’s teeth and the victim’s skin.

Teeth make contact, but do not break skin

At this level, the dog’s teeth come into contact with the victim’s skin, but they do not puncture or break the skin. It might involve a light nip or a grazing of the skin.

A single bite with shallow wounds

In this case, a single bite from the dog causes shallow wounds. The bite might puncture the skin, but the wounds are not deep and do not cause severe damage.

A single bite with deep wounds

This level involves a single bite that results in deeper wounds. The dog’s bite breaks the skin and causes significant damage, potentially requiring medical attention and stitches.

Multiple bites with deep wounds

Dogs at this level deliver multiple bites, and the wounds are deep and potentially more extensive. The victim may sustain multiple puncture wounds that could result in significant bleeding and tissue damage.

Death of the victim and/or flesh consumed

This is the most severe level, involving a dog attack that results in the death of the victim. Additionally, in some extremely rare cases, the dog might consume flesh. This level represents a catastrophic and highly dangerous situation.

Dog Bite Treatment

The well-being of the person bitten by your dog is paramount. Regardless of the bite’s severity, immediate medical attention is essential. Even a seemingly insignificant nip can introduce harmful bacteria into the person’s body. This can lead to infections or complications. 

Treating a dog bite promptly and properly is essential to prevent infection and ensure the best possible outcome. Here are seven steps you should consider taking if you’re bitten by a dog:

Wash the wound

The first step is to gently clean the wound with mild soap and warm water. Thoroughly wash the area around the bite to remove any dirt, debris, or potential contaminants. Cleaning the wound reduces the risk of infection.

Control bleeding

If the bite has caused bleeding, apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or sterile gauze to help slow and stop the bleeding. Elevating the injured area, if possible, can also aid in reducing bleeding.

Use sterile bandage

After washing and drying the wound, cover it with a sterile bandage to keep it clean and protect it from further contamination. If the wound is deep or appears to need medical attention, consider using a clean cloth or gauze as a temporary covering until you can seek medical help.

Seek medical attention

Even if the wound appears minor, it’s recommended to seek medical attention after a dog bite. A healthcare professional can assess the wound, determine the need for stitches or other treatments, and provide appropriate care to prevent infection.

Monitor for infection

Keep a close eye on the wound for any signs of infection, which may include increased redness, swelling, warmth, pus, or worsening pain. If you notice any of these signs, seek medical attention promptly.

Report the incident

If the dog bite occurred in a public place or if the dog is unfamiliar to you, consider reporting the incident to local animal control or authorities. This can help prevent future incidents and ensure the safety of others.

Update your tetanus shot

If your tetanus shot is not up-to-date, it’s a good idea to get a booster shot, especially if the bite is deep or if it has been a while since your last tetanus shot.

Animal Control Laws

Animal control laws play a crucial role in addressing and preventing dog biting incidents, and help to ensure the safety of both humans and animals within our communities.

Investigation

When a dog bite incident is reported, animal control authorities often conduct an investigation to assess the circumstances. This investigation may involve gathering statements from witnesses, evaluating the severity of the bite, and examining the dog’s history and behavior.

Quarantine

In many jurisdictions, a dog involved in a biting incident may be placed under quarantine. This period allows for observation to ensure the dog doesn’t show signs of rabies or other contagious diseases. 

Dog Designation 

Depending on the severity of the bite and the dog’s history, animal control laws may classify a dog as “dangerous” or “vicious.” These designations often come with specific regulations, such as mandatory muzzling in public, leash requirements, and even the need for the dog to be rehomed to an area with fewer restrictions.

Owner Responsibilities

Owners of dogs involved in biting incidents are usually required to take specific actions to prevent future occurrences. This might include behavioral assessments, and ensuring proper containment of the dog on their property. Failing to comply with these responsibilities can result in fines or other legal consequences.

Euthanasia

In cases where a dog’s behavior is deemed excessively dangerous, animal control laws may allow for euthanasia. This decision is typically made after careful consideration of the dog’s behavior. Euthanasia is often considered a last resort and is carried out following specific legal procedures.

Breed-Specific Legislation

In some areas, breed-specific legislation may be followed. It regulates or bans certain breeds that are perceived to be more prone to aggression or biting. These laws are controversial and vary widely.

Conclusion

So, if you are worried that “my dog bit someone,” you must immediately act. However, whether or not a dog will be put down after biting someone depends on several factors, including the severity of the bite, the dog’s history, local animal control laws, and the actions taken by the dog owner and authorities. 

Owning a dog that bites someone can be a challenging and emotionally charged experience. However, with knowledge, and prompt action, you can effectively manage the situation and work towards preventing future incidents. 

Proactively addressing the root causes of your dog’s behavior is a significant stride in creating a safer environment for both humans and your beloved companion. Responsible ownership and proactive training are essential to create a harmonious relationship between dogs and humans.  Contact us today to directly discuss your case with our qualified Dog Bite Attorney and obtain the diligent professional attention you deserve.