Arizona continuously ranks as one of the top states for dog bites and attacks. Being attacked by a dog is extremely frightening, and the injuries sustained often differ from those in other accidents. A victim of a dog bite may suffer from permanent scarring and disfigurement and may even develop a terrible fear of the animals, even if they were dog lovers before the attack.
If you have been hurt, you may be able to recover compensation for your physical and emotional losses. To claim the full settlement you deserve, it is critical that you take the appropriate steps to protect your case. Below, our Arizona dog bite lawyer outlines what to do after an attack.
Identify the Dog’s Owner
It is important to identify the owner of the dog immediately after an attack. If the owner is not present at the scene, locate anyone who was in control of the dog at the time, such as a dog walker or landlord. Ask for the individual’s name and address. You should also ask them to show you the dog’s rabies vaccination certificate to ensure that you will not contract the viral disease.
Photograph Your Injuries
You should take pictures of your injuries as soon as they happen. After you receive medical treatment, the wounds may start to heal and appear better than they were initially. Pictures taken immediately after the bite or attack can show the full nature and severity of your injuries. You should also take pictures during your recovery, so you can show the progress of any infection, scarring, or disfiguring injuries.
Obtain Immediate Medical Attention
Any time you are hurt, it is critical that you seek medical attention immediately. This is the only way to protect your safety and well-being. After a dog bite, it is particularly important to see a doctor so you can get a rabies shot, if necessary, and to prevent any other type of infection in the wound.
It is also very important that you seek medical attention so you can prove your case to the insurance company. Arizona is a strict liability state, which means you do not have to prove the owner or controller of the dog was negligent and that you were hurt as a result. However, you do have to prove you sustained injuries. The best way to do this is through medical records and a diagnosis. If you do not see a doctor after a dog bite, the insurer will use it against you by stating that you were not hurt.
Report the Dog Bite
It is important to file a report as soon as possible after you receive medical attention. The report needs to be filed with the appropriate agency. For example, in Phoenix, all dog bites should be reported to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. The agency will investigate the incident and quarantine the dog to ensure that it does not have rabies. This is an important step to make sure the dog does not hurt anyone else.
Follow All Treatment Recommendations
Seeing a doctor is important after a dog bite, but it is just as critical that you follow your doctor’s instructions and treatment recommendations. This will show the insurance company that you are serious about getting better and that you are trying to mitigate your injuries.
Contact a Lawyer
The days, weeks, and even months following a dog bite are confusing and stressful. You will be recovering from serious injuries, may not be able to return to work right away, and may not know what to do next. An Arizona dog bite lawyer can provide the sound legal advice you need, answer all of your questions, and help you obtain the full and fair compensation you need for your injuries. A lawyer will also advise you of your rights and make sure they are upheld.
Do Not Speak to the Insurance Company
After a dog bite, the insurance company representing the owner may contact you in the days following the incident. They may even offer you a settlement to help cover the cost of your injuries and other losses. The insurer is hoping you will accept this offer because it is likely not enough to fully cover the cost of your injuries. If you accept it, the insurer can protect their own profits and bottom line. You also cannot return to the insurer for future damages if you accept it, even if you later learn that you need more.
When the insurance company contacts you, it is important to direct them to your attorney. Tell the insurer you have obtained legal representation and that they are only to communicate with your attorney.
Do Not Sign a Medical Release
The insurance company may also ask you to sign a medical release. They do this so they can access your medical records and find a pre-existing condition to blame on your injuries. For example, if you have a compromised immune system and acquired an infection due to the bite, the insurer may argue that you were not infected by the dog but rather by something else.
Do Not Provide a Recorded Statement
The insurance company may also ask you to provide a recorded statement. They do this so they can use anything you say against you later. For example, if you provoke a dog and then they bite you, it may be difficult to recover the full compensation you deserve. Even if you did not provoke the dog, the insurance company will take your words out of context to show that you did.
Our Dog Bite Lawyer in Phoenix Can Assist with Your Case
A dog bite will leave you with very serious injuries, and you may deserve compensation for your medical expenses and other losses. At Impact Legal, our Phoenix dog bite lawyer can provide the sound legal advice you need to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to. Call us now at 602-345-1818 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more.