Bitten by a dog? Next Steps

chihuahua dog sitting on cushion indoors 2022 02 01 23 43 50 utc

At an outdoor gathering, you’ve just been bitten by a friend of family member’s dog with no apparent provocation.  Even if you are an animal lover, being bitten by a dog can be a traumatic event.  Dog attacks can result in injuries such as bite wounds, infection, laceration and possibly broken bones.  Sometimes the injuries can have lasting consequences such as disfigurement, so a dog bite is not to be taken lightly.

Bitten By A Dog? Next Steps to Take

  1. Document the attack by photographing the animal responsible, the injuries, the scene of the attack, and torn or bloody clothing.  If you are not able to do this, ask a friend to assist you.   Collect the names and contact info for any witnesses.
  2. Obtain medical care for any injuries.  If the skin is pierced, infection could set in.  Statistics show that 10-15% of dog bites can lead to infection.  Be sure to obtain medical records of treatment and invoices from the doctor visit. 
  3. Confirm the dog’s owner and the owner’s contact info if not already known.
  4. Try to remain calm as you are dealing with a neighbor you will have ongoing contact with.  Ask for the dog’s vaccination records including rabies and tetanus.  If the owner is not willing to share information, it may be that the dog has had prior incidents reported. 
  5. Refrain from detailed discussion with the dog owner to avoid saying things that inadvertently might hurt your case.
  6. Report the incident to your local animal control.

Who is Liable for the Damages Sustained with a Dog Bite?

The dog owner is responsible for restraining their pet to keep it from harming others, regardless of where the pet is.  State law ultimately controls liability.  In  Washington State, liability rests solely with the dog owner.

You May be able to Recover Damages

 You may want to verbally share with your neighbor the costs of your care and recovery with the intent of being reimbursed by them personally or through their Homeowner’s insurance, but it is recommended to follow up with a Demand Letter.  In the letter, provide evidence of your injuries along with a factual summary of the incident and reports from your doctor or emergency room visit. 

Compensation that can be expected:

  • Medical care
  • Lost income from lost workdays
  • Any clothes, shoes, eyeglasses or other personal property damaged in the attack
  • Scars or any lasting disability
  • Emotional  trauma.

Sometimes this process can be very stressful, or there are circumstances complicating the incident.  A personal injury lawyer can be of assistance with drafting the Demand Letter and can help secure compensation on your behalf. 


If you’ve been bitten by a dog and believe that you have a case for legal action, contact our legal team at Evergreen Personal Injury Council today.