What to Do After a Dog Bite

2024-05-11, Kyle Herbert

Knowing what to do after a dog bite can save you from infection and protect your future. Once you receive medical care, call an experienced dog bite lawyer to discuss your options.

We never expect it, but it happens more often than you might think. You’re walking through your neighborhood, maybe even walking your pet, and another dog approaches. A negligent owner let their dog off leash and failed to pay enough attention.

Suddenly, those playful growls get a little too aggressive. Dog bites happen far too often because of the negligence of owners who think their dogs are “safe.” Unfortunately, we tend to forget that a dog is a wild animal, and the truth is that any dog can bite at any time.

Those powerful teeth can bite or scratch. They can also do a lot worse, disfiguring or even killing some unlucky individual. So, what do you do after a dog bite?

What to Do After a Dog Bite: Care & Legal Protection

Often, the main concern after a minor dog bite is infection. Preventing infection after a bite is crucial, so here’s what to do after a dog bite:

wrapping a dog attack injury

Care for a Dog Bite Wound

  1. Wash the wound. Use a mild soap and water to clean the wound for 5 to 10 minutes. Clean dry.
  2. Slow the bleeding. Use a clean cloth and apply pressure to the wound. This pressure helps you slow the blood flow.
  3. Apply antibiotic ointment on the wound once the bleeding stops.
  4. Wrap the wound using a sterile bandage.
  5. Visit your doctor as soon as possible or visit an emergency room. Keep the bandage on until they examine the wound. You may require a rabies vaccine or tetanus shot.
  6. Change the bandages throughout each day and follow your doctor’s advice.
  7. Look for signs of infection: swelling, redness, pain, and fever.

Deeper wounds may require stitches, and your provider may give you a tetanus shot. To prevent possible infection, you may also receive a subscription for antibiotics. If the infection spreads, treatment often involves antibiotics through a vein.

More severe attacks can require surgery to repair the damage. 

Holding Negligent Owners Accountable

  1. Identify the owner of the dog. If you can’t find the owner, it’s possible the dog is a stray, which leaves you with the potential of a painful treatment with rabies shots.
  2. Exchange information with the owner. Get their contact information and the details of their insurance company and policy.
  3. Document the scene. Take pictures of the dog, the owner, and your wounds. If there are signs the dog wasn’t on a leash, document this as well.
  4. File a report with the agency that handles animal control in your area. In Houston, that’s Houston Animal Control. Your attorney can help you file this report to ensure it is accurate and thorough.
  5. Talk to a lawyer to learn more about your options for filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit.

If the dog owner has insurance, you can expect a call from an insurance adjuster. They may ask for a statement, but you do not have to provide a statement to the insurance company. Instead, ask them for this information and tell them your lawyer will be in touch.

  • Insurance company
  • Address of the office
  • Phone number
  • Claim number for your case
  • Name of the insured
  • Amount available to cover medical expenses (not all damages, just medical expenses)

Once you have this information, direct them to your attorney’s office for future communication.

talk to a doctor after a dog bite

What NOT to Do After a Dog Bite

  • Do not discuss money, payments, settlements, the value of your injuries, or any financial matter with the owner or the insurance company.
  • Never allow them to record a statement until you speak with a lawyer.
  • Don’t discuss responsibility over the phone or in writing.
  • Do not accept a settlement without your attorney.
  • Don’t set any appointments with the insurance company.

What’s the Danger of a Dog Bite?

When a dog attacks, the front teeth grab the tissue and compress it while the smaller teeth tear at the skin. Typically, this results in a jagged open wound. If there’s an infection, it’s more likely to be severe.

For most bites, the number one concern is infection. Some cases require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. That’s why it is crucial to visit your doctor as soon as possible.

Try to see a doctor within 8 hours of the bite. The longer you wait, the higher your risk of infection. Moreover, immunocompromised or diabetic individuals have a much higher risk of infection.

Additionally, when you visit your doctor soon after the attack, you create a direct connection between your injuries and the negligence of the dog’s owner. This link helps build a stronger foundation for your injury claim, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.

get the compensation you deserve after an animal attack

Get the Compensation You Deserve

Knowing what to do after a dog bite helps to protect your health and your best interests. Often, victims shy away from reports or claims for many reasons. For example, it’s often a friend’s dog that bites someone, and they don’t want to cause tension.

In other cases, they simply think there’s nothing they can do. After a bite, it’s crucial to file a report because it strengthens your claim and prevents future incidents. Usually, animal control uses these reports to maintain statistics, so there may be no action against the animal.

Before you file a claim, be sure to speak with an experienced attorney in your area. Strong legal representation ensures you receive the compensation you deserve. At Herbert Trial Law, our legal team fights for victims on a daily basis, and we are happy to schedule a free consultation to discuss your options.