Being a victim of an animal attack can be a physically and emotionally scarring experience and can cause someone to deal with a great deal of stress. Dog bites are no exception. They can and often do cause serious injuries; according to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 5 dog bites require medical attention.
When a dog bites someone, they may have a lot of questions. How is a dog bite report investigated? Why file a report if the injuries are minor? Are pet owners responsible for injuries their dogs cause? What are the proper legal steps one should take after a dog-biting incident? In this blog post, we will take you through the laws surrounding dog bites and the steps you should take after being bitten by a dog.
If you or a loved one have suffered injuries from being bitten by a dog, you may be entitled to financial compensation. The experienced legal professionals at Joseph Law Group can provide compassionate legal solutions in cases involving injury and even wrongful death. Contact us at (216) 522-1600 to schedule a free consultation.
Why is it Important to Report a Dog Bite?
It is against the law not to report a dog bite incident to authorities. Ohio law requires any person or medical professional to report dog bites within 24 hours of the bite occurring.
It’s important to report dog bites for a number of reasons, but namely for the health and safety of the victim and anyone that may come into contact with that dog. If a dog’s owner has not kept their dog up-to-date with their vaccines, the local health department can notify the victim and evaluate them for any diseases.
Reporting dog bites is also crucial in decreasing the victim’s risk of contracting rabies. Once a human begins exhibiting rabies symptoms, their chance of surviving is dangerously low, so it’s important to determine whether or not the dog that bit them had rabies before they begin experiencing symptoms.
Dog bite reports also help keep track of potentially dangerous dogs. Dogs can be classified as:
- Nuisance dogs, which are dogs that have chased or attempted to bite humans unprovoked;
- Dangerous dogs, which are dogs that have bitten or injured humans; or
- Vicious dogs, which are dogs that have seriously injured or killed humans.
If a dog is classified as one of these types, their owner may be required by law to take extra precautions to prevent their dog from hurting or killing others. For example, if a dog has seriously injured or killed a human, Ohio law requires it to be confined to its owner’s property unless it is on a substantially strong leash less than 6 feet long.
How to Report a Dog Bite in Ohio
After a dog bite occurs, anyone aware of the bite should contact local authorities. This can include a veterinarian or any other medical professional who was made aware of the bite, since most severe dog-biting incidents require the victim to seek medical attention.
A dog bite victim or the doctor treating their injuries must report dog bites to their local animal control, local police department, or local health department. This list of Ohio health districts can help you find the health department closest to where the dog bite occurred.
What Happens When a Dog Bite is Reported in Ohio?
After a dog bite is reported in Ohio, the local health department will begin an investigation into the incident. If the dog’s history reveals that the dog has previously bitten or injured any humans, an animal control officer or health department representative may investigate the dog owner’s home to see if the dog was being properly confined. They will also determine whether or not the dog bite occurred because the dog was provoked or if it occurred in defense of itself or its owner.
Following dog bites, if the dog is up-to-date on its vaccinations, the dog must be quarantined for at least 10 days and may be quarantined with the owner or at a local shelter. If the dog has not been vaccinated against rabies, the dog must be quarantined for a minimum of 4 months and will be vaccinated at the beginning of the quarantine period. If a wild dog bites a human, the dog may be humanely put down and tested for rabies.
Ohio Revised Code Section 955.261
Ohio Revised Code Section 955.261 outlines the requirements for a dog under quarantine after it bites a human. It states that a dog who has bitten a human may not be removed from the county where the bite occurred while the dog is under quarantine. Additionally, the dog may not be killed within the quarantine period unless it is done to prevent further injury or death or the dog is diseased or injured.
The quarantine period is primarily to determine if the dog has rabies. If the dog falls ill and dies or is killed during the quarantine period, the dog’s body may be claimed by the Board of Health to test the dog for rabies.
This legal code does not apply to police dogs that have bitten someone unless they begin to exhibit abnormal behavior, in which case they should be submitted to the Board of Health within a reasonable time after the incident for rabies tests.
Is Ohio Required to Euthanize Dogs That Bite?
No, Ohio dog bite laws do not require a dog to be euthanized after it bites a human. The dog’s owner determines whether or not the dog is humanely put down. If the dog does remain alive after the incident, the dog may be classified as a vicious or dangerous dog and be subjected to certain confinement rules to help prevent future dog bites.
Despite this, a dog may be killed in self-defense. Someone can kill a dog to prevent injury or death if the dog is chasing someone or threatening to bite someone. For example, if a dog is approaching someone menacingly, that dog may be killed while engaging in aggressive behavior. A dog may also be killed in defense of other property, such as livestock.
The dog’s owner is liable for any injury, death, or any loss to person or property caused by the dog. However, this does not apply to a situation in which the person who was attacked was committing a crime, like trespassing, when they were attacked.
What To Do As a Victim Following a Dog Bite
If someone has sustained bite injuries from a pet dog, they should take proper steps to ensure the dog’s owner is liable for damages. Below are some steps victims should take if someone’s dog bites them.
Seek Medical Treatment
If someone is bitten by a dog and they sustain serious injuries, they may need to be taken to the emergency room. Victims of dog bites should seek medical care as soon as possible and have medical professionals examine their injuries, regardless of severity. Dogs can carry bacteria in their saliva, and doctors may prescribe antibiotics to prevent the victim from getting an infection from the bite.
Document the Incident
It’s important to document the incident with pictures or videos, especially pictures of the injuries soon after the bite occurred. Documenting the severity of the wounds may help victims recover damages from the dog owners or their insurance company.
After a dog bite, the victim should gather information about the incident, such as the circumstances surrounding the bite. This can include information such as if the dog owner let their dog outside without a leash or if the dog was not in a fenced-in yard. If possible, the victim should also gather any information about the dog itself, including the dog’s breed and vaccination status. Additionally, the victim should gather the dog owner’s information, such as their name, address, and insurance information.
Report the Dog Bite
Ohio dog bite laws require bites to be reported to local authorities within 24 hours. Local animal control will investigate the circumstances of the incident. A local animal control officer may also investigate the dog owner’s home. For example, if the dog has bitten people in the past, they may evaluate whether or not the dog was being kept in an escape-proof yard or a child-proof kennel.
Contact a Dog Bite Injury Lawyer
Victims of dog bites should also seek formal legal advice following a dog bite. Remember, unless the dog bite injury resulted from criminal action or actively provoking the dog, the dog’s owner is likely to be legally responsible for any injury, death, or personal loss the victim sustained. This includes covering medical bills, lost wages, and any therapy or counseling needed due to the incident. Dog bite victims may also be able to seek reimbursement for a rabies bite if they contract rabies following the bite incident.
In order to take legal action, your Cleveland dog bite lawyer will need evidence and information regarding the incident, which can include the incident report number, insurance report number, location where the bite occurred, and any medical bills the victim incurred as a result of the incident.
Dog Bite Injuries? Call the Cleveland Personal Injury Attorneys at Joseph Law Group Right Away
If you or a family member have been bitten by a dog as a result of dog owner negligence, you may be entitled to recover damages. This can include reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and more. Under certain circumstances, you may even be able to recover punitive damages, which are additional fines someone must pay if they act maliciously. Our skilled Cleveland personal injury lawyers are prepared to help provide you with expert legal advice and receive the compensation you deserve.
With 20 years of experience serving the Cleveland, Ohio community, you can rest assured that your case is in capable hands. Call us toll-free at (216) 522-1600 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team today.