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What to Do After a Dog Bite in Seattle

December 7, 2023

No one expects “man’s best friend” to turn on them, but dogs are animals, with instincts and motives we can’t always anticipate or understand. In Washington, pet owners are responsible for their dog’s actions under the state’s strict liability laws. Even if the dog has no history of biting, the dog’s owner takes full responsibility for the dog the moment they become a pet owner, leaving them liable for damages like medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering if the dog bites someone on or off their property.

Dog attacks are terrifying, traumatic, and painful, often leaving physical and emotional scars on dog bite victims in Seattle and elsewhere. When a dog bites, it’s important to know what steps to take afterward to protect yourself physically and financially.

what to do after dog bite in seattle

What to Do in the Aftermath of a Dog Attack

First, get somewhere safe if the dog is still on the loose. It’s critical to get away from the dog if its owner isn’t present or fails to restrain it. Then, apply emergency treatment to any open wounds. Doctors recommend pressing gently on the wound to flush out dog saliva and bacteria before gently washing with warm water. Apply a loose bandage if possible while awaiting medical treatment. After you’re safe and you’ve applied emergency first aid to any wounds, take the following steps:

  • Call for an ambulance or arrange transportation to a hospital emergency room
  • Call Seattle Animal Control to report the attack and carefully answer their questions. They need to know the dog’s location to protect others in the area
  • Gather contact information including that of the dog’s owner if they are present as well as any eyewitnesses to the attack
  • While awaiting medical treatment use your phone to snap a picture of the dog if it’s still nearby and restrained
  • Take photos of your visible injuries
  • Once paramedics or your emergency transportation arrive, go to the hospital for emergency medical treatment

Ask the emergency medical provider to preserve your torn clothing in a bag as evidence of the attack.

What to Do At the Hospital After a Dog Bite

Dogs have sharp, jagged teeth that puncture and tear during an attack. Many dogs also shake the body part they’ve sunken their teeth into, causing bruising, muscle injury, and sometimes bone fractures as well as tears, punctures, and lacerations.

After a dog bite, at the hospital do the following:

  • Tell the doctor about every bite, bruise, and symptom, even if it seems minor
  • Ask for a detailed medical report listing your injuries, the doctor’s recommendation for treatment, and your prognosis for recovery, including the likelihood of scarring, loss of range of motion, or the need for corrective surgery
  • Follow all of your doctor’s recommendations including treating the wounds, preventing the possibility of rabies, and treating for infection

After you’ve received medical treatment and have an idea of the damages you’re facing such as medical expenses, lost wages during your treatment and recovery, whether or not you’ll have scars or disfigurement, and how long it should take to reach the maximum possible physical and emotional recovery from the dog attack, the next step is to gather your evidence and call a Seattle personal injury lawyer.

A Dog Owner’s Duty in Seattle

When a dog owner’s negligence causes you the pain and trauma of a dog attack in Seattle or the surrounding Washington area, you shouldn’t be left responsible for the damages. Under the state’s strict liability laws, the dog’s owner had a duty to take reasonable measures to prevent the pet from causing injury. If they fail in this duty, they are responsible for your damages. Typically, compensation for a dog bite injury in Seattle comes from the pet owner’s property liability insurance even if the bite occurred somewhere other than their property.

A dog bite attorney in Seattle can represent your rights in a Washington dog bite claim for damages.

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