One moment, a cute canine seems playful and happy. The next moment, the dog attacks, leaving you with serious injuries. 

The steps you take following a dog bite are crucial for several reasons. Major medical, legal and financial consequences can follow an attack. 

Your first steps 

Your first steps depend on the severity of your injuries. Do you need immediate medical attention? Should you call 911? Should you go to the emergency room? 

You may have time to interview witnesses. At the very least, get their contact information so you can follow up later. Likewise, exchange contact information with the owner of the animal in a calm manner. The attack scene is not the place to engage in an argument. 

Even if you start to feel better, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Punctures from a dog bite wound pose a risk of infection. You also do not know if the animal has rabies. 

Your next steps 

Either at the scene or at a medical facility, take photographs of your injuries. They can serve as evidence. You also should keep copies of all medical records. 

You should also file a report with the local animal control officer or police. Officials may have a record of previous incidents involving the dog. Their investigation can bolster your case. 

An insurance claim is another serious consideration. Medical bills add up fast. If your injuries are serious, you might miss work or need lengthy treatment. 

If a dog bites you, it is unlikely that the person who owns the animal is going to admit any responsibility. Under the “strict liability” rule in California, though, you have rights to compensation. 

Your steps to recovery 

You may not know when you are in danger of becoming a dog bite victim. Still, you should not suffer because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

The trauma of a dog bite injury can last weeks, months or even years. The better you address the issues, the sooner you can get on with your life.