Of the millions of dog bite victims that are attacked in the United States every year, only a fraction seek medical treatment. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that as many as 880,000 people seek emergency room help after a dog bite each year, but this is a small percentage of the approximately 4.5 million people who are bitten each year.
Why would someone fail to seek medical treatment after a dog bite?
There are several reasons, but all of them are based on inaccurate thinking on the part of the victim. A person who has suffered a dog attack or bite should always seek medical treatment, even if he/she does not feel the bite was serious enough to warrant attention.
Some victims fail to seek treatment because they believe that a dog bite is so “minor" they are not in any medical danger. This is rarely true. Dogs carry a variety of diseases; the most famous is rabies, but the relative rarity of this fatal disease does not mean that dogs cannot carry other infections and diseases that may cause a victim to become sick. Any bacteria that infects a dog bite wound can lead to serious complications, and most people simply do not have sufficient medical knowledge to treat these bites effectively to safely prevent infection.
Another reason people choose not to have medical treatment for a dog bite is that they are afraid the owner will get into trouble. This is an especially difficult issue when the victim is related to the dog’s owner. The victim may feel that if he or she goes to the emergency room, awkward questions will be asked, and the owner may be visited by law enforcement or animal control.
Sometimes the relationship between the victim and the owner is so close that the owner will actually put pressure on the victim not to press charges or to seek medical treatment, claiming that the dog “never bit before" and it will never happen again. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Dogs that bite have often bitten at least once before without the bite being reported. Dogs that bite once will almost certainly bite again, if conditions are right.
Despite the closeness of the relationship between a victim and the dog’s owner, it is never a good idea to ignore a bite. Not only is it important to get medical treatment for your injuries, but it is also very important that the dog bite be reported to the proper authorities, so that pressure can be put on the owner to prevent future attacks. If you fail to report a dog bite and seek medical treatment, the next victim could be a child or someone who will suffer far more damage than you.
A dog bite lawyer can help you handle your dog bite claim in the proper way. Not only will the attorney help you collect damages for your injuries, but he or she can also give you the best advice about how to deal with the dog owner, and how to receive adequate medical treatment.