For a parent, the moments immediately after a dog bites their child are often frantic. There is worry over the kid’s health plus anger toward the dog’s owner, all simmering as they consider the best option for immediate medical care. There is undoubtedly a lot to consider in a short amount of time.
Once you get through the initial emergency period, it’s important to pause and consider your actions. The choices you make in these early moments can help – or hinder – your pursuit of accountability later on.
The immediate to-do list
If a dog bit your child, there are three things you should try to do immediately.
First, document the dog. Take a photo of the offending animal, if possible. Otherwise, write down as much as you can about the dog’s appearance, its behavior, where it came from and the direction in which it ran.
At the same time, identify the dog’s owner. If they are present, get their name, address, phone number and insurance information. If the dog’s owner is not on the scene, ask passersby if they know who owns the dog.
Lastly, if the situation allows, wash the wound with soap and water. NYC also asks you to report the bite. If the dog is still aggressive or poses a danger to others, call 911.
Document everything and contact an attorney
In New York, the owner of a dangerous dog is generally responsible for injuries the animal causes to another individual. This means they may have to pay for any related medical bills, and potentially provide compensation for other harm (such as pain and suffering). In order to hold the owner accountable, you should document everything and act quickly to protect yourself and your child.
- Keep all medical records related to the bite and store them in a safe place
- Follow the directions of your health care provider, as well as city or state health officials
- Reach out to a personal injury lawyer, preferably one who knows dog bite laws and has experience representing children
- Be wary of communicating with the dog’s owner or insurance rep – do not admit to anything or accept any offer without consulting a lawyer
By being both thorough and careful in the days and weeks following the dog bite, you can help strengthen any personal injury claim you may file against the dog’s owner. This gives you the best chance at securing some financial relief for your child and ensuring the dog’s owner is held responsible for what happened.