My Dog Bit Someone: Now What?
When you become a pet owner, you take on a lot of responsibility—not just for your dog, but for the people around your dog. If your dog causes an injury, know what steps you need to take.
What to Do If Your Dog Bites Someone:
Though dog bites are rare, they are still a risk for dog owners. One in five bites will require medical attention. One of the most important things to do is make sure you, as the dog’s owner, know how to react.
Know the difference between playful and aggressive behavior.
Many dogs will gently nip and bite as a part of play. However, when biting turns aggressive, it can cause serious injury. Pay attention to your dog’s body language. If it turns tense and stiff, it might be a sign of fear or aggression. Growling, barking, and bearing the teeth can all lead up to an aggressive bite.
Immediately take control of the dog and separate them from other people.
Aggressive dog bites are usually quick and short. Once your dog has bitten someone, you need to immediately separate your dog from the injured person. Leash, muzzle or kennel your dog to prevent other injuries.
Get medical help.
Though serious injuries are rare, you’ll want to seek medical attention immediately. Administer first aid and contact emergency services, if necessary. Even if it’s a minor injury, it’s best to have a doctor look at it in case of infection. Make sure you let the injured person know if your dog has been vaccinated since this will affect their medical treatment.
Contact Animal Control Services
If your dog has caused a serious injury, contact your county’s local animal control. Let them know that your pet bit someone. Depending on the situation, the state might need to keep your dog for ten days. If you don’t contact the state and choose to hide your dog, give it away, or sell it, you could be convicted of a misdemeanor or felony.
Contact your insurance provider.
Liability coverage helps make sure you’re able to pay for any injuries that happen to other people in your home. This includes dog bites, which are the most common liability claim for homeowners. The great thing about most liability insurance is that it oftens extends outside the home. If your dog bites someone at the local dog park, your policy usually covers the cost. In addition to medical care, your policy will also cover lawsuit defense and property damage costs.
Make sure to check your policy and make sure it doesn’t have any coverage exemptions. Certain providers may exclude certain dog breeds that are considered dangerous. If you have multiple dogs, your coverage may only cover one or two. Every policy will also have a claims limit; most insurance plans will cover up to $300,000 for pet-related damages and injuries.
Finally, know that while some insurance policies cover the first incident, they might not foot the bill if your dog causes another injury.
What Happens if My Dog Bites Another Dog?
Just like with a human, you need to immediately separate your dog from the situation. Once you have your dog under control, exchange information with the other pet owner. They’ll need to know if your dog is up-to-date on their vaccines. In turn, you’ll need to know their contact information in case you need to get your insurance involved.
What Happens if My Dog Bites Someone and They Threaten to Sue?
Each area has different laws that determine when pet owners are responsible for injuries. States might look at where the bite happened, if the dog was leashed, the dog’s history, or even the behavior of the victim. All these can affect a court case, if it comes to that.
If someone does end up suing you for an injury, you’ll want to contact a lawyer who knows their way around liability claims. A lawyer who specializes in dog bite claims can help you navigate the court process. Depending on your case, you might need your lawyer to represent you in both civil and criminal court. To pay for court, legal, and lawyer fees, file a claim with your insurance provider.
Depending on the case, there are different consequences for losing this type of case. If your dog is impounded, you’ll need to pay for its release. In addition to paying a fine, medical costs, or court fees, you’ll need to take steps to prevent future dog bites.
To avoid another incident, the court may ask you to follow a few guidelines. This may include leashing or muzzling your dog while in public. You could also be asked to place warning signs around your property. Some places, such as dog parks or airports, ban pets if they’ve had serious biting incidents. Your dog could also be assigned mandatory behavioral training.
How to Prevent Dog Bites and Dog-Related Injuries
Take steps to prevent dog-related injuries, especially if your dog has a history of biting. While in public, keep a close eye on your dog. If your dog gets aggressive while around other pets or people, keep them leashed while out in public. You might need to avoid busy parks, streets, and other areas while with your pet.
There are also plenty of ways to avoid dog bites at home. When you have people come into your home, let them know your pet’s triggers. If teasing and aggressive play can lead to bites, guests should know to avoid that behavior. Not only can these steps help avoid bites, they also help if you are ever charged with a dog-related injury.
Owning a dog is a lot of responsibility. You want to make sure you do everything you can to protect your pet and the people around you. If you have questions about how to prevent future accidents, seek out professional help and advice. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has plenty of resources on behavioral training and addressing bad habits.
What Happens if My Dog Bites Someone and I Don’t Have Insurance?
An insurance policy covers most fees that come with dog bites. This includes medical costs for the injured party, as well as legal and court fees. If you don’t have a rental or home insurance plan that covers court costs, you’ll have to pay these fees out-of-pocket. To learn more about home insurance plans and rates, visit Versured.com.
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