Generally, people think of dogs as friendly and playful, but they are still animals and can be unpredictable. It may be hard to identify when a dog is uncomfortable and could potentially snap at you.

Each year, about 4.7 million people are bitten by dogs in the United States, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. If a dog bites you, there may be serious legal and medical consequences.

What are the next steps?

Once a dog bites you, it is important to act right away by doing the following:

  • Exchange information with the owner: You might want to get the name of the owner and phone number or address. You may want to ask for any vaccine history for the dog as well.
  • Identify witnesses: If there were any passersby who saw the bite happen, getting their contact information may be helpful in the event of a lawsuit or insurance claim.
  • Document the bite: Taking photos of your injuries and making a note of any complications associated with the injuries may help later in the process. Keeping your medical records might help you as well.
  • Receive medical attention: Even if you think you are completely fine, getting medical care may be necessary. Unless you have access to the dog’s vaccination history, you cannot be certain everything is fine.
  • Report the incident: Filing a dog bite report to the police can help in the future if the same dog attacks a different person. Also, you might want to check with the animal control department to see if the dog has any previous record.

Documenting the incident, surroundings and your injury can help you negotiate a settlement or win in court if your case goes that far. Consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer may be helpful if you have any questions during the process.