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Should You Report A Dog Bite To The Police?

report dog bite to policeDogs can be gentle, loving and loyal companions. As the most common pet in the United States, it can be easy to forget that they sometimes bite. When this happens, the resulting injuries require medical treatment. However, do you need to report your dog bite to the police?

There are several laws in Massachusetts about animal ownership. Healthcare workers must report any animal bite they treat to the municipal animal inspector within 24 hours. What you do after a dog bites you can affect whether you can file a claim for damages. Understanding your state’s established dog bite laws and your legal rights helps you get the compensation you deserve.

What a Strict Liability State Means

Massachusetts is a strict liability state regarding dog bites, meaning that dog owners are liable for their pets’ actions. You do not have to demonstrate negligence to recover damages after a dog bite incident. The law only requires that you establish the identity of the dog’s owner and prove the dog caused your injuries. These liability laws make it easier to pursue claims when dogs attack.

What To Do When a Dog Bites

Dog bites happen quickly, and you likely will not know what to do immediately. You will need to seek medical attention and contact an authority. It is essential to remain calm and act fast.

Gather Important Information

If the dog’s owner is present and cooperative, get their name, phone number and address. Also, obtain the dog’s name, breed and veterinarian information. Ask if the pet is currently on required vaccinations, including rabies. Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses, as well.

Take Photos

Take pictures, or have a witness do it for you. Get shots of the animal, owner, dog tags and your injuries. If the people in control of the dog do not cooperate with you, photos will help police identify them. Documenting your bite wounds from the start helps prove what happened and the extent of your injuries if you sue for damages.

Call the Police

If the owner is uncooperative or hostile, call the police to assist you. You can also contact authorities if the dog is alone or the owner flees the scene. Officers can help you locate the dog and owner. If you know the pet owner’s information, you do not need to call the police. Call animal control to report the incident instead.

Seek Medical Care

Although injuries range in severity, dog bites can cause significant medical issues if left untreated. It is critical to have a healthcare professional assess and treat your wounds. You should get medical attention within 24 hours after an animal bites you.

Report the Incident

You can still report the dog bite incident if you do not immediately call the police or animal control. Reach out to the animal inspector in your town to learn how to file a report. You can also inform authorities of the attack by contacting animal control, public health or your healthcare provider.

Contact a Lawyer

The statute of limitations to file a legal claim against a dog owner in Massachusetts is three years from the date of your injury. A legal professional can help you navigate and understand the applicable laws. Get in touch with an attorney to discuss your case and learn how to file and present your claim. Knowledge of the process helps you recover the monetary damages you deserve.

An experienced lawyer can help you:

  • Investigate the incident
  • Assess your resulting damages
  • Determine liability
  • Negotiate with the insurance agency
  • Pursue a lawsuit in court for compensation

Some Dangers of Dog Bites

Dogs can carry bacteria like Streptococcus, Pasteurella, Staphylococcus and Capnocytophaga in their mouths. You can develop an infection from these bacteria when a dog bites you. Seniors and people with compromised immune systems have a greater risk of becoming infected. Unvaccinated dogs can also have rabies. People can get rabies from dog bites. This viral disease affects the central nervous system, leading to death within days.

Other possible concerns resulting from dog bites include:

  • Bruises, lacerations and scars
  • Broken bones
  • Tetanus or other infections
  • Torn ligaments and muscles
  • Nerve damage

Soft tissue damage can take a long time to heal. Some injuries require stitches, surgery or physical therapy. Depending on where the dog bit you, you may need reconstructive and cosmetic procedures to minimize damage to your face and other visible areas.

What To Know About Emotional Trauma

Many people bit by a dog suffer post-traumatic stress disorder following the attack. If you sustain significant injuries, it can take a long time to heal your physical wounds. Unfortunately, that may be just the beginning of your healing process. A dog attack can cause psychological harm resulting in the following:

  • Recurring nightmares
  • Lack of sleep
  • Fear of animals
  • Irrational fears
  • Memory problems
  • Mood swings

Most dog bite victims are children. Understanding and processing a traumatic event like a dog bite is more difficult for children than adults. The emotional distress of an attack can have lasting effects on a young person’s personality and lead to PTSD, anxiety and ongoing fear. Severe trauma in young children can also affect brain development. Whether an adult or a child, it is crucial to receive psychological support following a dog attack.

Why File a Legal Claim

Dog bites can result in injuries that require expensive medical treatments. Physical therapy appointments and prescription medication costs can add up over time. You may have a diminished capacity to earn a living or lose work time due to medical appointments and recovery time. Filing a claim can also hold the owner accountable and help prevent future incidents.

Secure Financial Recovery

The pet owner may have liability coverage through a homeowner’s insurance policy. To recover damages resulting from your dog bite, you can file a claim with the insurance company or pursue a lawsuit against the owner.

You can seek compensation for economic damages, such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Ongoing treatment expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages

You can also seek recovery for noneconomic damages, like:

  • Scarring
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering
  • Reduced quality of life

Prevent Future Attacks

A dog who bites someone is likely to do it again, even if there is no history of aggression. When you report your bite to animal control, you can reduce the risk of future injuries to others. In addition, reporting the incident holds the owner responsible. Authorities investigating the situation can discover potential concerns and minimize the possibility of future problems.

Ensure a Reasonable Settlement

Most dog bite cases settle out of court. Your lawyer can pursue a claim against the pet owner’s insurance company. Most homeowners’ policies provide coverage for dog bites. Typically, a knowledgeable dog bite injury attorney can negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance agency. However, you can take your case to trial if your lawyer can not reach a reasonable agreement.

How Our Legal Professionals Can Help

You face many physical and emotional concerns when you suffer injuries from a dog bite attack. The financial burden can be significant, depending on the severity of your damages. The Jason Stone Injury Lawyers team can help navigate your legal claim to get the compensation you deserve. With our Stone Cold Guarantee, we only get paid if you get paid. Contact us today at 800-577-5188 to learn how we can help. There’s No Obligation, Just Information®.

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