A dog bite can be significantly painful and frightening for a victim. If a dog attacks you in Alabama, you may not know where to turn for assistance. The pet owner might dispute liability and refuse to pay for your medical care, or the animal that bit you might be a stray running at large in your city. The steps you take after a dog bite could determine whether you are eligible for compensation from one or more parties.

Record Your Experience

Document everything after a dog attack. Take photographs while you are still at the scene, if possible. Take pictures of the dog that bit you, the location where the bite occurred, your injuries, any property damages and important details such as a hole in the dog’s fence that may have contributed to the attack. Write down details while they are still fresh in your mind, such as the name of the pet and the pet owner, the date and the names of any eyewitnesses. The more you record about your dog bite incident, the stronger your future claim could be.

Report the Incident

If the dog caused serious injuries such as puncture wounds, lacerations, a torn muscle or injuries to a vulnerable place such as your face, call the police to file an incident report. You should also call the police if you suspect a broken law, such as the pet owner unlawfully walking his or her pet without a leash or failing to take proper precautions to control a known dangerous dog. A dangerous dog is one that has bitten a person or pet before. Residents in Alabama must properly confine dangerous dogs at home and leash-curb them in public, according to the Code of Alabama, section 3-6A-3(9).

You or the police should also report the bite to your local animal control agency. Animal control centers keep tabs on dog bite incidents in the area to hold owners accountable and help prevent future attacks. Animal control may need to take the pet temporarily into custody while they test it for diseases such as rabies. Law enforcement may officially deem the animal dangerous after it bites you, forcing the pet owner to take stronger precautions against dog attacks in the future.

Go to the Hospital

Do not delay medical care after a dog bites you in Alabama. Delaying care could lead to an infection. It could also hurt your odds of compensation during an insurance claim. Go to the hospital immediately and explain what happened. Dog bite injuries may require special treatments such as rabies shots or wound debridement to prevent infections. Common treatments include flushing the wound, applying an antibiotic ointment and wrapping it in gauze. More severe dog bite injuries may require stitches or surgeries.

Learn Alabama’s Dog Bite Laws

Keep track of all the money you spend treating a dog bite wound. Include compensation you should have received from your job but had to miss while you went to the doctor or healed from your injuries. Alabama’s dog bite law holds pet owners legally responsible for bites and attacks that happen on the owner’s property (or off the property, if the dog chased the victim) as long as the victim was not trespassing and did not provoke the pet. If these specifications apply to your case, you may have grounds to demand damages from the owner of the dog that bit you. The same rules apply to cases involving other pet-related injuries, such as scratches.

Alabama uses a unique combination of strict liability and one-bite rules when handling dog attack cases. The courts will hold a dog owner strictly liable for the actual costs of the attack regardless of fault. Actual costs include lost wages and hospital bills. For a pet owner to be liable for damages such as physical pain and emotional suffering, however, he or she must have known the dog was aggressive and negligently failed to control the pet. If you need help navigating your dog bite claim, a dog bite lawyer in Huntsville could collect evidence against the pet owner on your behalf. You have two years to file a dog bite claim in Alabama.