The majority of Americans agree that dogs make wonderful pets. In fact, over 78 million dogs are maintained as pets in the United States. And in California alone, pet dogs are kept in 40% of homes.

Unfortunately, because so many dogs live and enjoy life as household pets in the United States, some will inevitably bite. What’s more, around 800,000 dog bites require medical care each year throughout the nation.

Whatever the reason for a dog attack, the advice on what to do next is largely the same. Read on to find out more about dealing with a dog attack’s aftermath and safeguarding your legal rights.

Determining the Severity of a Dog Attack

To assess the seriousness of dog bites, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers utilizes a specific ranking methodology created by veterinarians:

  • Level 1: When a dog displays “obnoxious or aggressive behavior” directed at another person but avoids making direct contact with the skin with their teeth.
  • Level 2: The dog grazes the skin with its teeth but is unable to pierce it. There may still be nicks or minor bleeding.
  • Level 3: At least one but up to four punctures happen from a singular bite, though none pierces further than halfway down the dog’s canine teeth. There may be lacerations at this bite level.
  • Level 4: The bite causes the same number of punctures, but at least one of the punctures must be deeper than halfway down the dog’s canine teeth. Deep bruising is another common side effect of these bites.
  • Level 5: The dog repeatedly bites the victim, causing at least two bites of Level 4 severity.
  • Level 6: The bite or attack is serious enough to kill the victim.

According to dog behavioral experts, most bites are level one or two. Generally, conventional training methods may address the behavior of dogs who tend to make level one, two, or three bites. By contrast, dogs who cause more severe attacks are particularly difficult to teach because of their inadequate bite inhibition.

The APDT acknowledges that dogs who bite at levels four or five may be educated to change these dangerous habits, but it advises euthanizing dogs that bite at level six.

Dog Owner Liability For Personal Injury in California

Per California’s civil code on personal injury, our state follows strict liability for dog bites, which means that defendants in these cases (usually the dog’s owner or handler) are immediately accountable for any damages sustained.

Dog owners are thus responsible for the majority of bites unless the victim was intruding on their property illegally. Under such circumstances, the dog owner could make a viable defense that the victim of the bite was trespassing.

It’s important to emphasize that victims of dog bites must still demonstrate that the owner is responsible, given the attack’s circumstances. This often entails demonstrating the dog owner’s legal possession of the dog in question, the dog’s guilt of the assault, and the victim’s lack of contributing behavior (such as trespassing) at the time of the attack.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite

If a dog bites or attacks you, determine the dog’s breed and get the owner’s contact information right away. You should also call the police as soon as you can after the assault.

A law enforcement officer may evaluate the circumstances and confirm the veracity of the incident, easing the wounded party’s burden of evidence.

From there, ensure you take the following steps if a dog attacks you:

  • Thoroughly wash your injury with mild soap and warm water, keeping the site of the bite under water for at least five minutes.
  • After cleaning the bite, stop the bleeding with a clean towel and apply antibiotic ointment with a sterile bandage to the wound.
  • Go to urgent care or the hospital to have the bite checked out. Your doctor will be able to determine if you need further treatment to speed up the healing of the wound, such as stitches or a vaccine for tetanus and/or rabies.
  • During your recovery, change your bandages regularly and follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment or advice.
  • Finally, keep an eye on the wound for signs of infection.

Signs and symptoms of infection start with sensitivity, numbness, or swelling at the wound site.
More serious signs include muscular soreness, weakness, tremors, and tightening fingers and limbs.

If your injury begins leaking fluids or pus, or your breathing becomes labored, get emergency medical treatment. And remember that bodily spasms and rigidity in your neck, jaw, or abdominal muscles could mean that your dog bite injury has become life-threatening.

Although the majority of dog bites don’t cause infections, those that do need to be treated quickly. Prophylactic antibiotics, tetanus toxoid, irrigation with saline or povidone-iodine solution delivered by medical personnel, debridement to protect the health of the tissue around the bite, and other treatments are often used to treat infected bites.

Call Beckerman Anderson in Orange County

You should always be cautious when you are near or meet other people’s dogs. While we love our pets and enjoy meeting friendly neighborhood dogs, we must constantly keep in mind that they are still animals and might attack or hurt us at any moment.

But if a dog has bitten you or caused other injuries, it’s essential to retain legal counsel immediately. You may be able to get compensation for your injuries by speaking with an Orange County personal injury lawyer specializing in dog attacks. Depending on the circumstances of the attack, a lawyer may guide you through the process of filing a claim or a lawsuit.

Fortunately, our Orange County personal injury law firm can provide you with critical advice on dealing with the fallout from a dog attack and building your case. At Beckerman Anderson, we know what it takes to build a strong claim to protect victims of dog attacks.

Contact us at 949-409-4242 for a free first consultation and examination of your accident claim if you have been bitten by or otherwise hurt by a dog in Orange County. We’re here to help you and your family recover as quickly as possible.