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What Should I Do If Someone’s Dog Bites Me?

What Should I Do If Someone’s Dog Bites Me?

Interactions with dogs are often enjoyable and positive experiences, but sometimes unexpected incidents can occur. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, it’s important to know how to respond appropriately. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps to take if you’ve been bitten by a dog and provide an overview of Virginia’s dog bite laws.

Immediate Steps to Take

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health and safety are top priorities. Even if the bite seems minor, it’s important to seek medical attention to clean and treat the wound properly. Dog bites can lead to infections, so prompt medical care is essential.
  2. Identify the Dog: If possible, identify the dog and its owner. This information will be valuable for reporting the incident and determining the dog’s vaccination status.
  3. Exchange Information: If you’re able, exchange contact information with the dog owner. This will help in case you need to follow up regarding medical bills or any related concerns.
  4. Document the Incident: Take photos of your injuries and the location where the bite occurred. These visuals can serve as important evidence if legal or medical issues arise later.
  5. Report the Incident: Depending on the severity of the bite and local regulations, you may need to report the incident to your local animal control or health department. They can guide you on the necessary steps and ensure public safety.

Understanding Virginia’s Dog Bite Laws

Virginia’s laws regarding dog bites are important to be aware of, especially if you’re considering any legal action. Virginia follows the “one bite rule,” which means that the dog’s owner may not be held liable for the first bite their dog inflicts on someone. However, there are exceptions and circumstances where an owner can be held responsible for a dog’s actions:

  1. Negligence: If the owner knew or should have known that their dog had aggressive tendencies or had bitten someone before, they could be held liable for negligence if their dog bites again.
  2. Leash Laws: In Virginia, some localities have leash laws that require dogs to be restrained in public areas. If a dog is off-leash and bites someone, the owner might be held responsible due to the violation of leash laws.
  3. Provocation: If the victim provoked the dog or engaged in behavior that could reasonably be expected to cause the dog to bite, the owner might have a defense against liability.

Seeking Compensation

If you’ve been bitten by a dog and are considering seeking compensation for your injuries, it’s important to approach the situation thoughtfully. While the circumstances of each case vary, seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney experienced in personal injury law is a prudent step. An attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the law and assess the strength of your case.

Remember, this article is not a substitute for legal advice tailored to your specific situation. Consulting with an attorney will provide you with the guidance you need to make informed decisions.


Being bitten by a dog can be a distressing experience, but knowing the appropriate steps to take can help you handle the situation effectively. Prioritize your health and safety by seeking medical attention, documenting the incident, and reporting it as necessary. For personalized guidance and advice, it’s recommended to consult with legal professionals who can help you navigate the specifics of your situation and protect your rights. Start a conversation with us today.