They are called man’s best friend, and dogs are beloved by millions of Americans. They keep the lonely company, play with children, and often become cherished family members. However, dogs are animals and can inflict serious injury when they attack. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur annually in the United States, and nearly one in five of those bites will become infected. In addition to the risk of infection, dog bites can injure tissue, bones, nerves, and more. The emotional toll of a dog attack can also affect a person for years to come.
It is best to be cautious around dogs and never let children play with a pet unattended. Even in the best circumstances—dog bites can and do happen. If you or someone you love has experienced a dog bite, it is important to act quickly to protect your health and maintain your rights.
Physical Dangers of a Dog Bite
A dog bite can bring about any number of serious health concerns. After a bite, it is essential to wash the wound with soap and water as quickly as possible. If the injury is so severe that there is a substantial amount of blood, the victim is in extreme pain, there is exposed bone, or you are physically unable to perform the necessary treatment, seek emergency medical treatment right away.
If at first the wound seems minor and you are able to clean it properly, continue to monitor the area for signs of infection. If the wound becomes painful, red, or swollen, seek professional treatment, as those are signs of infection.
Dog bites can put people at risk for a number of diseases if left untreated, including:
- Rabies – Though rare, rabies is extremely serious. It is a virus that affects the brain. It passes through the saliva of an infected animal and is often fatal. Vaccines exist for both dogs and humans, but it can be difficult to determine if a dog has been vaccinated in some cases.
- Pasturella – Pasturella is the most common dog bite infection. It can cause a painful infection at the bite site, as well as joint pain and difficulty moving in more extreme cases.
- MRSA – This type of staph infection can be antibiotic resistant. Untreated, it can spread to the lungs and bloodstream.
- Tetanus – Humans can receive a vaccine for this danger, which can cause paralysis in some serious cases.
How to Pursue a Dog Bite Lawsuit in Illinois and Missouri
Once any health concerns have been addressed, victims can pursue legal action against the owner of the dog. Dog bite victims can sue the owner of the dog to obtain compensation for:
- Medical costs
- Future medical costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
To successfully do so, it is important to take certain steps to protect your rights and the state of your claim. First, take photos of your injury and note down the circumstances surrounding the bite incident for future reference. Second, make sure to identify the owner of the dog and obtain contact information from any witnesses. Next, file a report with the local animal control agency. If the dog owner has insurance, that company may contact you after the incident. If that happens, do not disclose any information to the representative. They will be seeking to mitigate the financial damage as much as possible and will try to use any statements you make against you. When it comes to insurance companies, do not:
- Discuss any payments or settlements
- Sign any forms
- Offer a statement
- Allow them to record or photograph you
Many dogs live peacefully in homes all over Illinois and Missouri. Dogs can be gentle and playful—until the moment they are not, and a dangerous bite occurs. Dog bites threaten the health and well-being of victims, and the owners of these pets should be held responsible. If you or someone you love has suffered a dog bite injury, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced lawyers at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm can help you understand your rights and decide how to move forward after an injury. Fill out our online contact form today for a prompt response from a member of our team.