Dog bites are a serious issue in California. Of all 50 states, California has seen the most deaths in recent years. Many of them occur in Southern California—specifically San Diego. The county’s Department of Animal Services investigates at least 2,500 dog bite cases every year. Between 2012 and 2013, the number of dog bite cases increased by nearly 30 percent.

The reported dog bites varied from nicks on the hands to serious ones involving surgery or even death. The Department of Animal Services classifies a serious bite as one that substantially impairs one’s physical condition. It may involve a concussion, loss of consciousness, concussion, broken bone, loss of function of a limb or organ, a muscle tear, multiple sutures or surgeries, or disfigurement.

During a three-year period spanning from July 2011 to June 2014, most bites were caused by pitbulls, with 851 reported. Of those, 100 were serious. Next was German Shepherd at 349 bites. In third place was the Chihuahua, with 333 bite cases.

With so many dog bites cases occurring in California, anyone can be a victim at any time. Therefore, it’s important that dog bite victims know what to do when they are bitten. While medical care is important, and a lawsuit can help you recover compensation for such expenses, dog bite reporting is also important. Read on to learn more about the importance of reporting and what other steps you should take following a dog bite injury.

Importance of Dog Bite Reporting

Many people don’t report dog bites out of loyalty to a friend or family member who owns the dog. However, reporting a dog bite to the proper authorities not only helps you, but helps others as well. After you receive medical care, make it a priority to report the bite to the proper agency. Check with the Animal Control office in your area to get instructions on filing a report. You may also be asked to report the bite to the local health department and police department.

If the dog can be identified, vet records can see if the dog is up-to-date on its rabies shots. If it’s not current, or if the dog is a stray, then you may need to have rabies shots yourself, which can be painful.

Reporting the dog bite can also help you recover compensation for your injuries. Even relatively minor bites can cause chronic pain and cost several thousand dollars to treat. You can also receive compensation for emotional damages such as stress and a sudden fear of dogs.

Many laws are in favor of the dog owner. Reporting dog bites brings justice to victims and allows authorities to enforce laws and punish dangerous dogs. Dog bite reporting allows animal control officers to punish owners through criminal liability and force them to pay fines or undergo other punishment. Authorities can also remove a dangerous dog from a home and keep it away from others. This can prevent future dog bites from occurring. Dog bite reporting after every bite protects everyone. It helps children, who are especially prone to dog bites.

Other Steps to Take Following a Dog Bite

If you have identified the dog and owner, get more information about the dog’s history. You can get license records from the local Animal Control office. The officers would have information about any prior events relating to the dog. If the dog has been running loose or has bitten someone or another animal before, there should be records related to these events, unless they were never reported. Again, this is why dog bite reporting is so important.

You should take photos of all your wounds. Ask a nurse or doctor to help. You will need to show these pictures to a lawyer as evidence. This leads into the next step: hiring a lawyer. If your injuries were significant, you should file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. A successful lawsuit will help bring about compensation to help you pay for medical bills, lost wages and other damages you suffered as a result of the dog bite.

Injured by a Dog Bite? Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

After a dog bite, you should first seek immediate medical help. After that, report the bite to local authorities and contact a lawyer. You will need to protect your legal rights. File your claim quickly so you don’t lose out on your rights to compensation.

Dog bite claims can be complex, so be sure to hire a legal professional. Contact a knowledgeable lawyer near you who has experience handling such claims. He or she can assess your case and advise you of the next steps.