Alabama has one of the highest rates of dog ownership in the country. Dogs bring their owners companionship and joy, but biting incidents are more common than you might think. According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA), more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs annually in the United States. At least half of these bite victims are children.
Dogs bite for various reasons. Maybe they’re in a stressful situation or have become territorial. You should never assume a dog is completely safe. Even animals with no history of aggressive behavior can attack if they feel threatened.
Bites can be traumatic and leave you wondering what to do next. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog in Alabama, here’s how to protect your health, rights, and legal options.
Even if a bite seems minor, the wound can get severely infected if it goes untreated. Clean the bite wound with mild soap and water, call 911, or go to the nearest hospital as soon as possible. Don’t delay — prioritize your health. The AVMA estimates that one in five dog bite victims require medical attention, and children are far more likely to be severely injured.
It’s also important to follow your prescribed medical treatment plan, attend all follow-up appointments, and keep records of your medical expenses. Evidence of your injuries and treatment costs is crucial in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Collect and preserve as much evidence as possible since doing so can support your case later. This includes photos of the scene, your injuries, and the animal involved. Also, look out for and document any indications of the dog owner’s negligence, such as if the animal was not on a leash.
If witnesses saw what happened, ask for their contact information since their account could help corroborate your version. If the dog’s owner is present, get their contact information and request proof of a rabies vaccination. The more details you have, the better positioned you will be to bring a successful claim.
Contact your local animal control agency or the police to report the dog bite. They can investigate the incident, quarantine the dog if necessary, and take appropriate action to ensure no one else gets hurt. Filing a formal complaint is also critical to documenting the incident that can support your personal injury claim.
The dog owner’s home insurance company often handles dog bite claims in Alabama. An agent might reach out to you soon after the accident, but keep in mind they are not on your side. They may try to claim you aren’t hurt as severely as you say and offer you a low settlement, hoping you’ll accept and close the claim quickly.
To avoid settling for less than what you deserve, don’t speak to the dog owner’s insurance company or sign any documents without consulting an attorney.
Alabama law often favors the victim of a dog bite. But even if a case seems straightforward, things can get complicated and vary depending on the circumstances. That’s why working with a practiced attorney who knows the ins and outs of Alabama personal injury laws is essential. Your attorney should explain your legal options and advise you on the best path forward for your claim.
If you have a viable case, your attorney will handle communications with the dog owner or their insurance company.
You have limited time to file a personal injury claim after a dog bite. Known as the statute of limitations, this deadline in Alabama is two years. If you wait too long and the statute expires, you may be unable to recover compensation for your injuries.
Contact an attorney as soon as you can after a dog bite to get started and maximize your chances of successfully securing the settlement you deserve.
Any dog can bite, and attacks can cause severe injuries. Taking the right steps afterward can help you recover faster and support your potential legal claim if the animal’s owner was negligent. If a dog in Alabama has bitten you or someone you know, don’t hesitate to contact the dog bite attorneys of Belt, Bruner & Barnett P.C.
Our team is highly experienced in advocating for victims of dog attacks and helping them recover compensation for their injuries and damages. You deserve support to help you move on after a dog bite, and our team is here for you.