Dog bites can be traumatic experiences that leave both emotional and physical scars, long after the initial injury has healed. Sadly, children are often most susceptible, due in part to their curious nature and lack of knowledge when it comes to interacting with strange animals. However, even adults can become victim to a loose and aggressive dog. Know how to best prevent such injuries, and how you can treat them in the event that they do occur.
While you may not be able to completely prevent dog bites, there are some measures that you can take, particularly when it comes to protecting your children. Start by teaching your children to never approach an animal they do not know—and follow this rule yourself. Also, avoid any dog that is eating or feeding puppies. Additionally, if you do need to approach a strange dog, do so slowly while giving it the space and opportunity to approach you on their own terms. Should the dog become aggressive, avoid the temptation to scream or run from it; instead, back away slowly and avoid eye contact.
Treating Dog Bites
Even with the best prevention approaches, dog bites can and do still happen. Know how to effectively treat them, both at the time of the incident and in the days and weeks to come with the following tips:
- Stop or slow any bleeding with a clean towel, and attempt to keep the injured area elevated;
- If the bleeding is severe, call 911 or visit an emergency room;
- If the bleeding appears to be manageable, carefully wash the injury with mild soap and water, apply sterile bandaging and antibiotic ointment regularly, and make an appointment with your doctor;
- Answer your doctor’s questions as best as you can regarding the dog, the situation in which the bite occurred, and your health or medications;
- Follow all treatment recommendations from your doctor, including the use of antibiotics and any necessary vaccinations to prevent infection or other health complications; and
- Obtain a medical report from your doctor regarding the severity of your injury, treatments received, and cost of treatment and medications.
While dog bites sustained by a family pet cannot be considered for a personal injury lawsuit, those injured by a dog that belongs to someone else may be able to seek compensation to cover medical expenses, treatment, and other related costs. However, because these cases are often difficult to navigate and pursue (particularly if you knew the owner), it is recommended that you seek assistance from a skilled and professional personal injury attorney.
In Wisconsin, there are statutes that may impact the liability of dog “owners, ” “keepers, ” or “harborers, ” and the liability of the victim for potential contributory negligence. In addition, if a dog had previously caused injury to another person, there may be an opportunity to recover double the otherwise recoverable amount of damages. Understanding the law and what it allows can be confusing for an injured person who is not an attorney.
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