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What to Do after a Dog Bite in Washington State

Many people consider their dogs to be members of the family. Most dogs offer companionship, joy, and unconditional love. While some may have a propensity to act aggressively, others may bite unexpectedly in an out-of-character moment. In any case, this can quickly turn into a dangerous situation because dog bites may cause serious physical and emotional harm.

If a dog bites you, there are specific things you should do to ensure your health and safety, as well as to protect your ability to file for compensation.

Ensure Your Immediate Health and Safety

Make sure the owner restrains the dog. If the owner is not present, leave the area so you are no longer around the dog. Then, seek emergency medical care if you need it. Ask somebody to call 9-1-1 or do so yourself if nobody is nearby. Go to the emergency room for evaluation by a doctor.

Get Information about the Dog and the Owner

Record the dog owner’s name, address, and phone number. Write down information about the dog too. This includes the dog’s name and color (note primary color, secondary color, distinguishing marks like spots, etc.). The dog’s breed does not affect any claim you file, though note it as another means of identifying the dog.

Also, ask for proof of the dog’s most recent vaccination information. This includes rabies and other vaccinations.

Report the Dog Bite

Call Clallam County Animal Control at 360-417-2459 to report the dog bite. If you are located elsewhere in Washington State, report the bite to your local agency. If you need police assistance, call 911.

Animal Control performs several important functions in the community, many related to dog bites. This includes quarantining dogs after bites to observe the animal for signs of rabies, as well as regulating dangerous and vicious animals.

Reporting it also establishes a record of the bite, which can be important once you file a claim to get compensation for the damages you suffered.

Note: Animal Control will not automatically put down the dog after a bite. This is an important fact that victims should know, especially because many victims know the dog or the dog’s owner and fear that reporting the bite will mean the dog will be put down.

File an Insurance Claim to Get Compensation for Damages

A common misconception people have about dog bites is about who pays for damages the victim suffers. Some people hesitate to file a dog bite claim because they do not want to cause grief for the dog’s owner. It is important to remember that in most cases the owner’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, not the individual, will pay.

The lawyers at McMenamin & McMenamin, PS will identify the right insurance company and ensure that the correct procedures to file your claim are followed.

Washington is a “strict liability” state. This means that, with few exceptions including provocation, a dog’s owner is responsible for bite injuries the animal causes. This is true even if the dog had no history of aggression..

You will need to collect and present evidence that establishes negligence and damages. We can help you with this. Start a file to organize your evidence and keep it all in one place. Evidence can include pictures of your injuries, doctor’s notes, contact information, etc. Your medical records will be among the most important evidence you need to establish your damages, which brings us to the next important thing you should do.

Follow Up with Your Doctor

Make sure you follow up with your own doctor to monitor the wound. Watch for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, discharge, and more. Talk to your doctor about proper wound care, how often to change your bandages, and signs of infection you should watch for.

This is important for your health and recovery, of course, but it also helps you establish the severity of the wound and the damages you suffered as a result of the bite. If you disobey doctor’s orders, an insurer may argue that you contributed to the severity of your injuries – as in, had you followed doctor’s orders, your injuries would not be as severe.

So follow up with your doctor regularly and follow through with any instructions they give you.

How can McMenamin & McMenamin help you?

If you suffered injuries from a dog bite incident in Washington State, you may be able to collect compensation from the dog’s owner. This compensation covers damages including medical bills, lost wages from missed work, pain and suffering, and scarring. The personal injury attorneys at McMenamin & McMenamin, PS can help you figure out how much compensation you could be eligible for and help you prove liability to file a claim.
To schedule an initial consultation, contact us today at 360-452-9242.

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