The most important thing after you or a family member is bitten by a dog is to hire a lawyer…. and make sure he is the only one who talks to the insurance guys. But here is the full list.
1) Get treated by a doctor. If the injury is serious, go to the emergency room. Keep treating until the doctor says he has done all he can. If you don’t get medical treatment, the insurance company won’t believe you are hurt.
2) Take Pictures – of the injuries (especially scars), of the dog, of the owner, of where this happened. A picture is worth a thousand words. Take the pictures the same day as the attack.
3) Get the names and addresses of all witnesses. Ask them to write down what they saw. People disappear, and people forget. A good witness statement will influence the insurance adjuster.
4) Write down everything that happened as soon as possible after the attack. Dog attacks are always scary, and the more you remember and tell the insurance company, the scarier it becomes in the retelling.
5) Write down what the dog looked like, what his name is, and his owner’s name and address. Why? Because if your lawsuit goes to trial, your lawyer will have to prove that the person you are suing owned the dog who attacked you. There is an old joke among lawyers that the first thing an insurance lawyer learns is the following progression:
“There was no dog.”
“I don’t own a dog.”
“My dog isn’t that color”
“The dog looked just like my dog, but my dog was inside.”
“My dog can’t bite”
6) If you have to miss work because of the attack, tell your doctor and/or the hospital, and have them write you a note. Have them do this for all of the time that you miss from work. There is law in Ohio that says you cannot recover lost wages unless your doctor says you cannot work.
7) If you have homeowner’s insurance, call your insurance agent, and ask them if you have medpay benefits. This can either be used to pay your medical bills, or as a cash advance against your settlement. I can tell you how this works.
8) If you have a scar that is still visible after 10 months, go to a plastic surgeon or dermatologist, and ask what it will cost you to get the scar fixed. Your lawyer can tell you what to do.
9) Don’t talk to the dog owner’s insurance company. Tell them you have a lawyer, or are getting one. Insurance adjusters love to call people and get statements from them. But often, in the excitement of dealing with someone they don’t know about a traumatic event, people misstate things, and say things they don’t mean. This can come back to hurt you later.
10) Back to the lawyer. Get one. You will get more money – even after the lawyer’s fee is taken out. The lawyer will talk to the insurance company for you. A good one will tell you what to do and when in order to get the most money.
Insurance companies are intensely aware that juries don’t like dogs that bite. They investigate claims early and hard. Click this link if you want to know more about dogbites in Ohio. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, you need a lawyer. Call me, Bill Strubbe, a Cincinnati Personal Injury Attorney. My phone is 513-621-4775. There is no charge for talking to me.
Other lawyers refer their clients to me. And if you decide you‘d rather hire someone else, that’s OK.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.