In many cases, dog bite incidents result in serious, and sometimes even deadly, consequences. Dog attacks continue happen with astounding frequency in the U.S., occurring at a rate of nearly 4.7 million dog bites each year. Of those bites, nearly one in five require medical care—which can include emergency surgery, stitches and staples, physical therapy, skin grafts, plastic surgery, and counseling.
Surprisingly, many dog bites in Georgia occur on or near the victim’s property. These victims also often know the dog, or have seen it in the past. However, familiarity does not always ensure your safety from a dog bite. The best way to keep yourself safe from harm is to keep your distance from a potentially dangerous dog, helping to ensure that the animal does not feel its territory has been threatened.
Sadly, not all dog bites can be prevented. If you were bitten by a dangerous dog, please contact Kaufman Law, P.C. to learn more about your rights.
Step #1: Avoid Infection By Seeking Medical Care
Each year, about 800,000 Americans seek emergency medical care in response to a dog bite injury. While we often associate dog bites with scarring and disfigurement, infection is the most common complication associated with dog bite injuries. Nearly three-quarters of all serious dog bites eventually become infected.
A dog’s mouth can contain as many as 300 different species of bacteria. A dog bite can push the bacteria deep into the tissue and blood stream of a human where they multiply and spread throughout the body. These bacteria are harmless in the mouth of a dog, but have the potential to cause serious harm once a bite occurs.
A dog bite victim can become seriously ill within days of an attack. All dog bite victims should know the symptoms of a dog bite of infection:
- Redness or swelling around the bite
- Unusual warmth in the skin surrounding the bite
- Red streaks that radiate from the bite
- Clear, white, or yellow discharge from the wound
- Painful or swollen lymph nodes
- Fever, chills, headache, and/or lethargy
A dog bite victim who shows any of these signs of infection should seek emergency medical attention as soon as possible. Most dog bite infections can be treated with antibiotics, if caught early enough. However, untreated infections can cause meningitis, septicemia, blood poisoning, organ failure, and death.
Step #2: Report the Dog Bite to Animal Services
If a dog bites you, your first step should be a visit to your doctor or the emergency room. After you’ve had the bite checked, you should report the bite—but how do you do this? Do you call the police or another agency? It depends on the county that you live in. Fulton County contracts with a private company that runs Fulton County Animal Services. Other counties have different arrangements.
Here are the numbers to call in and around Atlanta:
- Fulton County Animal Services: 404-794-0358
- Cherokee County Marshall’s Office: 678-493-6200
- Clayton County Police Department: 770-477-3684
- Cobb County Animal Control: 770-499-4136
- DeKalb County Animal Services: 404-294-2996
- Fayette County Animal Control: 770-631-7210
- Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department: 770-781-2222
- Gwinnett County Police Department: 770-513-5100
- Henry County Animal Control: 770-288-7432
Once you report the bite, an officer will be sent to investigate the incident. The officer will cite the dog owner and write an official report. You will want to ask for a copy for the insurance company. In most cases, the dog will be quarantined for 10 days to make sure it is not carrying any diseases. Some dogs may be labeled as dangerous. A dog that poses a serious threat to the public will be put down.
You may think that reporting the dog is unnecessary, especially if your injuries are minor. However, biting is rarely a one-time event. Reporting a dog bite may help prevent future attacks. This is why our Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Kaufman Law, P.C. urge you to report the bite as soon as possible, even if your injury wasn’t serious. The dog’s next victim may not be so lucky.
Step #3: Seek Compensation for Your Injuries
Each year in the U.S., the insurance industry pays out more than $1 billion in dog bite claims. These insurance claims are made against a property owner’s insurance policy to pay for damages and losses. These settlements help pay for emergency medical care, in addition to ongoing rehabilitative care and treatment. Settlements can also cover lost wages if you are unable to work due to your injuries.
In Georgia, the dog owner is liable for all injuries and illnesses caused by a dog bite. Dog bite victims who suffer serious infections have the right to compensation for medical expenses, disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering, property damage, and lost wages. If you have been injured in a dog attack, please do not hesitate to contact an Atlanta personal injury lawyer at Kaufman Law, P.C.
An Atlanta personal injury attorney at Kaufman Law, P.C. will work to maximize the compensation you need to help pay medical bills and get on the road to recovery. For a free consultation, call our office today.