A dog has bitten you, a loved one or someone you know. The injuries are serious enough to require medical attention.
In this article I will explain to you 7 things that need to be done right away in order to start handling a dog bite case properly.
What you need to do
1. Go to animal control or other authorities and find out if the dog has been put into quarantine.
2. Find out from animal control if they have any records of previous bites by the same dog.
3. Ask animal control and the dog owner to not put the dog to sleep until your representative has had the opportunity to have the dog examined by an expert.
4. If it is possible to safely get photos of the dog and the location where the bite happened do so or have someone else do so as soon as possible.
5. Obtain statements from all witnesses who saw the dog bite or the dog’s behavior before the bite occurred.
6. Obtain statements from neighbors who are familiar with the dog and the dog’s characteristics, even if they did not witness the dog bite.
7. Regardless of whether the dog bite occurred in the dog owner’s home or not, ask the owner for his homeowner’s insurance agent name and phone number so that a claim can be opened in your name.
After a dog bite is reported local animal control authorities will often pick up the dog and place it in quarantine. Tests are often run to see if the dog has rabies or other diseases. Animal control will generate a report which you will want to obtain a copy of as soon as possible.
If the same dog has been brought in by animal control, for a bite or otherwise, they may have a records of those previous events. You want to obtain a copy of that record as well.
Ask animal control to not put the dog to sleep until you have had the opportunity to have the dog examined by a dog behavior expert. If the owner or animal control indicate that they are going to put the dog down, you can have an attorney obtain a court order allowing the examination of the dog for clearly dangerous tendencies that its owner should have been aware of before the dog is put to sleep.
If you can get photos of the dog in a cage, or in some other way that is safe, do so as soon as possible. The photos will help establish that this is exactly the dog who bit the injured person. Also take photos of where the bite occurred, even if it was not in the home of the dog owner.
Find out who witnessed the dog bite and obtain their statements. Ask them to tell you if they observed the dog growling or displaying any aggressive or hostile actions before the bite occurred. Ask them if the dog was looking directly at while growling at the person the dog eventually bit, as this is a sign of an overly aggressive dog.
Call or go to the neighbors near where the dog lived and obtain statements of the neighbors observations about the dog. Ask them to let you know about any overly aggressive mannerisms they have observed in the dog over time.
Ask the dog owner for the name and phone number of his homeowners insurance policy agent so that you can open a claim. If the dog owner refuses to give it to you advise the owner that he or she can avoid being sued by giving you the information. If the homeowner continues to refuse to provide you with the information you will need to have an attorney help you
Attorney John P. Burns has also explained the basic California Dog Bite Law in an article entitled How A California Dog Bite Injury Case Works.