What to Do After a Dog Attack

Summer sends many Michigan residents outside, both human and canine. The nice weather increases the chance for interactions between people and pets. But when “man’s best friend” turns out not to be friendly, you could end up facing serious injuries. Find out what to do if you are the victim of a dog attack.

Dog Attacks Can Cause Serious Harm and Injury

Approximately 4.5 million dog bites happen each year in the U.S. Some of those dog attacks can cause serious harm. In 2018, nearly 27, 000 people had to have reconstructive surgery after a dog attack. Aggressive canines can also cause property damage, and seriously harm other dogs.

Beside the real physical and emotional pain, all those injuries can add up. The average hospital stay after a dog attack cost $18,200. All together, homeowners insurance policies paid out $675 million for dog-related injuries in 2018 alone. That includes payments for physical harm, veterinary and medical bills, pain and suffering, and other related damages. To be sure you can pay for all those expenses, you need to know what to do after a dog attack.

What to Do Immediately After a Dog Attack

Before you can start considering your options, you need to focus on your own safety. Keep your purse, bag, or jacket between yourself and the dog and move away, giving others an opportunity to step in and get the animal under control. If someone has been seriously injured, call 9-1-1.

Get Information About the Dog

Once you are safely away from the dog – or if the animal has been restrained by its owner, a police officer, or someone else – take a minute to find out:

  • Who owns the dog
  • The contact information of the owner
  • The contact information of whoever was responsible for the dog at the time of the attack (especially professional dog walkers or handlers)
  • Whether the animal is up-to-date on its shots, particularly for rabies
  • Whether the animal has ever attacked someone before

Remember that pet owners often think the best of their animals. There could be a history of aggressive behavior even if the owner says the dog “is always so good with kids” or “has never done anything like this before”.

Document Your Experience and Address Your Injuries

Your next step should be to report the dog attack and to seek medical or veterinary attention for whoever was injured: you, your child, or your own dog. The order of these two steps will depend on how serious the injuries are and whether the police responded to the incident.

Your local police can assist you in filing a report that will document what happened and photograph the injuries for use later. Depending on where you live, the owner of the dog may also face criminal charges for allowing the dog attack to occur.

You should always see a doctor after a dog attack. Nearly one fifth of dog bites become infected. More serious wounds could also require medical attention including stitches, sutures, or even surgery to repair. You may also need a rabies or tetanus shot to help you fend off disease.

Talk to a Dog-Bite Attorney About Compensation for Your Injuries

Once the immediate danger has passed, and you have received treatment for your injuries, it is time to start thinking about how you are going to pay for it. Many dog owners have homeowners or renters insurance that will cover harm done by a family pet. You may need to act quickly to file the right claims and provide the necessary proof.

An experienced dog bite attorney can help you meet those deadlines and consider any proposed settlement you might receive from the insurance company. Keep in mind that anything you write or sign and send to the insurer can and will be used against you. Your attorney can help you review and understand everything so you know whether settlement is the right choice.

If your claim is denied, you can also take the dog owner (and sometimes the dog walker or boarding facility) to court. Michigan law has three different ways you can pursue your claim. You may be entitled to one, or all three. At Macomb Law Group, our personal injury attorneys can help you understand how those laws work together to get the recovery you deserve. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured by a dog bite, contact Macomb Law Group and get our team working for you.


  • James Spagnuolo

    I began working in personal injury law more than 20 years ago, starting as a law clerk during my first year of law school at Wayne State University School of Law in Detroit. After passing the bar exam in 2002, I went on to become a partner at a series of law firms before opening the Macomb Law Group in 2017.

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