Whether it is yourself or a loved one attacked by a dog, the actions you take immediately afterward play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of your case.
It is imperative you know these mistakes and avoid them as best you can. Making these mistakes may harm your chances of recovering full compensation, regardless of how much evidence you might have.
Common Mistakes Philadelphia Residents Make Following a Dog Attack
You might know the dog; you might not. But regardless of your relationship with the dog and its owner, you must avoid the following mistakes:
Not Reporting the Dog Attack
It is imperative that you report the dog attack to the local police department and contact your animal control office. In some instances, you may also need to file a report with the Department of Health. Regardless of whether you know where the dog lives, or the identification of the dog owner, you need to report it.
Filing a report starts the investigation and creates a paper trail for your case. A police report serves as a written record of your incident, and it provides information like the dog, dog owner information, and witness contact information.
Not Obtaining Witness Contact Information
Just like a car accident, you need witness contact information after a dog attack. Eyewitnesses often leave the scene when they decide that they cannot help. If you catch them before they do leave, get their contact information. There is no need to worry about an official statement at this point.
Instead, request their contact details, and your attorney can fill in the gaps later.
Eyewitness testimony is crucial for a dog attack case. It can prove that you or your family member did not provoke the attack, you were not trespassing, and help disprove any defenses the insurance company might dredge up later.
Not Seeking Medical Attention Right Away
Any time you are injured, you must seek medical attention.
After a dog bite, it is critical. A dog’s mouth is ripe with bacteria. Your wound might become infected when not appropriately treated. Also, you should be treated for rabies if it turns out the dog was rabid, or no one knows about the dog’s vaccinations.
Lastly, not seeing your physician means the insurance company now has a defense and can argue that you were not injured by the dog attack, because you did not seek medical care immediately afterward.
Not Documenting Your Damages
A significant portion of filing a lawsuit for a dog attack, or any injury for that matter, is damages. Damages are often contested by the other side because they want to minimize how much they pay out.
You need to be cautious and keep everything that might help prove your claim.
Just some of the evidence you need to document damages fully include:
- Photographs: Photographs prove the injuries occurred. Take photographs at the hospital of the injuries, pictures after treatment, progress, and even permanent scars.
- Medical Records: Medical records show all the treatments you received and your prognosis.
- Out of Pocket Medical Costs: Anything you pay for out of pocket (including copays, over-the-counter medications, and other treatments) should have receipts or bills that you save so you can use them later to prove your case.
- Insurance Documents: Your health insurance might pay for your injuries and treatments while a claim is pending. Any invoices, bills, or explanation of benefits you receive should be saved. Do not rely on your insurance company to send all of these documents to your attorney.
- Logs for Missed Hours: Document the days and times you miss at work and have an employer write a letter attesting to those statements.
Not Keeping a Pain Journal
Most dog bite lawsuits take several months to settle – and in some cases over a year. Even one month after an accident, you might be unable to adequately describe what happened to you or how it made you feel. You will remember you were in pain, but you might not recall the specifics of that pain. Keeping a pain journal can help you recall these fine details.
Each day, discuss your physical pain, treatments, medications you took, how your quality of life was impacted, and even how you feel emotionally. If you suffer nightmares, write them down. It is not uncommon for people to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder following a vicious dog attack, which might include chronic night terrors.
Not Consulting with an Attorney
One of the biggest mistakes victims of dog attacks make is failing to speak with an attorney. You are going up against the insurance company and the dog’s owner – both of which are likely to have an attorney.
You may be approached with a settlement early because the insurer wants you to settle before exploring your options.
Failing to consult with a Pennsylvania attorney who has experience in dog attack cases could result in you receiving much less in compensation than you deserve.
I have helped clients just like you receive the compensation they need. After a dog attack, I can help you negotiate with insurance companies and I will fight for your right to collect money for lost wages, medical costs, pain, and suffering.