What Happens After a Dog Bite is Reported?

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A german shephard is biting a man's arm.

You should always report a dog bite when it happens for several reasons.

If you need medical care – and you should have your injuries checked even if they seem inconsequential – and you seek compensation later, you will have a record of the bite that led to your injuries. Additionally, reporting the bite will help keep others safe.

Wake County officials recommend that you report dog bites to your local Animal Control office. Their website has phone numbers for the Raleigh Animal Control branch and other cities in Wake County.

After you report the bite, an officer will come to take your statement and try to locate the dog. If the dog belongs to someone you know and they have it under control, the latter part will be much easier.

Sometimes, the dog is not accompanied by a person, and either the animal runs off, or you run away to avoid another bite.

In these cases, it’s helpful to tell the Animal Control officer what the dog looked like, if it was wearing a collar, and where you last saw it. They will make every effort to find the dog.

Once the animal is located, state law requires that it be quarantined for ten days and observed for signs of rabies (even if the owner has proof of rabies vaccination). The quarantine can be done at a vet’s office, animal shelter, or in some cases, the owner’s home if certain conditions are met.

During this time, the dog must be confined and kept away from other people and animals. It should also be checked for signs of illness.

If the dog still shows no symptoms of rabies after ten days, it should be vaccinated for the disease if it hasn’t been already.

Are Dog Bite Reports Public Record?

Yes. In most cases, though, they aren’t necessarily easy to find.

You can check with your local animal control office, but what if the dog bit someone in another city, county, or even state? The good news is that your dog bite attorney will have skilled investigators who comb through public records regularly, so they should be able to track down a dog’s history of biting (if it’s been reported to Animal Control before).

Aside from public records, our investigators may be able to help in other ways. For instance, seeking compensation is hard if you can’t find the dog or its owners.

While Animal Control officers will do their best to find the animal, they will eventually have to work on other cases. Our investigators can canvas the neighborhood where you were bitten, and sometimes we find witnesses familiar with the dog.

If we can track down the dog and its owner, you can begin trying to recover your damages.

Neighbors may tell us about previous issues with the dog, even if unreported. They might also know if the dog’s owner has a habit of letting it wander off-leash.

To strengthen your case, we will also search for any video evidence showing the attack – for example, video from a nearby security or doorbell camera. This will be helpful if the dog’s owner claims you provoked the dog by harassing it – a common defense in dog bite lawsuits.

The video might also show if the dog was off-leash during the attack, making the case eligible for strict liability.

Getting Medical Care For Your Injuries

Be sure to see a healthcare provider about your dog bite, even if it seems minor.

We understand that sometimes people feel silly going to the emergency room with a small wound that isn’t bleeding very much.

You may feel like you could just bandage it at home and save everyone a lot of trouble – not to mention save yourself the insurance copay!

But dog bites carry a significant risk of infection due to bacteria that may be found in the dog’s mouth. It’s important to have the wound cleaned by a healthcare professional who may also want to prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.

Your doctor may recommend a rabies vaccination if the dog is still at large or its vaccination status is unknown.

Is the Dog Owner Liable for Your Injuries?

Under North Carolina law, the dog’s owner may be considered strictly liable if the dog in question was considered “potentially dangerous” based on its history of biting other humans or domestic animals when away from the owner’s property.

However, a dog can also be considered potentially dangerous if it is over six months old and can run at large at nighttime.

At other times, owners are liable for dog bites if they allow their dog to run off-leash in areas where it is prohibited by law. Raleigh, for example, requires animals to be leashed when off the owner’s property, except in specially designated areas like dog parks.

If you were bitten in a public place by an unrestrained dog, the owner could be liable for your medical bills and other damages.

“Strict liability” means that the owner is liable for the dog bite damages simply because their dog bit you – it isn’t necessary to prove the owner was negligent. If the dog didn’t fall into the “potentially dangerous” category and didn’t bite you while off-leash, your situation probably doesn’t qualify for strict liability.

However, in some situations, the owner may still be liable if you prove they were negligent. This might be difficult, and you will need to prove that the owner was negligent and that you did nothing to contribute to the bite or injury.

If a dog has bitten you, we recommend speaking with a North Carolina dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to understand your options for seeking compensation.

Contact a North Carolina Dog Bite Lawyer Today

Proving fault in a dog bite case is sometimes difficult, but the Heavy Hitters at Tatum & Atkinson are experienced in helping dog bite victims get compensation for their injuries.

Please call us today at 800-LAW-0804 to find your options for recovering damages such as medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and permanent disability or disfigurement.