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Is It Normal to Experience Swelling After a Dog Bite?

Dogs are our best friends and valued members of the family. Usually, they are fun and playful, a true joy for everyone to be around. Unfortunately, in Milwaukee alone, there are over 1,000 dog bites per year.

Even minor dog bites can quickly turn serious. If you experience swelling after a dog bite, you should seek medical attention. Swelling can be a symptom of an infection caused by the bite. If left untreated, dogs can carry diseases leading to potentially fatal illnesses such as rabies, tetanus, and capnocytophaga.

Wisconsin state law holds the dog owner responsible for all dog bites. If you have been the victim of a dog bite, speaking to a lawyer about your legal options is crucial. The Wisconsin dog bite lawyers at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers can help. Contact us today for a free consultation to better understand your rights.

Wisconsin Dog Bite Laws

Dog owners in Wisconsin are strictly liable for injuries and damages caused by dog bites. An owner is responsible for the full amount of damage the dog causes to another person, animal, or property. If the owner knows their dog has a history of aggressive behavior that previously caused injuries, they are liable for double the amount of damages.

In addition to their liability, dog owners also face these potential penalties:

  • A fine of $50 to $2,500 if their dog injures another person
  • A fine of $200 to $5,000 if their dog injures a person and they had prior knowledge or were notified that the dog previously bit someone
  • A fine of up to $100 for the first offense of allowing the dog to run at large, and up to $200 for every subsequent offense

Recently, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court added additional restrictions on who is responsible for a bite and who can be considered the dog’s owner, particularly if the dog’s owner and the property owner where the bite took place are different.

You will need to provide information on who owns the property, where the bite occurred if the owner is a resident of the property, and the relationship between the property owner and the dog owner.

You must compile evidence, such as photos, video, and medical records, and then speak to a legal professional to build your case.

Steps to Take After a Dog Bite

Most dog bites are not severe and should not be painful after the initial bite. 4 out of 5 dog bites are minor and do not require medical intervention. No matter how small the bite may seem, it is essential to document your injury and seek care.

  • If the dog’s owner is present or nearby, inform them of the incident and have them get their dog under control.
  • If the dog is loose or no owner is present; you need to contact animal control for assistance.
  • Take pictures of your bite wound and any other injuries the dog caused and the location where the dog attack took place. This documentation is needed if you’re filing a civil lawsuit.
  • Get names and contact information from everyone who witnessed the incident so your lawyer can interview them for your case. You can also look for homes or businesses nearby with video surveillance. Take note of the addresses so your lawyer can collect any video evidence of the dog bite.
  • Contact your local police department so they can file a formal report of the dog bite. You will need a copy of your police report for a lawsuit.
  • You must also contact the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and report the dog that bit you. State law requires all dogs that bite a person must be quarantined for 10 days following a bite to ensure they do not have rabies.
  • Wash the bite with soap and water as quickly as possible, apply antibiotic cream on the wound, and cover it with a clean bandage. This helps prevent infection and helps the wound heal faster.
  • After treating your wound, seek medical attention to further reduce your chance of infection.

When to Seek Medical Care

You should always seek medical care after a dog bite for legal and medical reasons. The medical records from your visit are vital evidence needed to build your claim. Having your bite examined and cleaned by a healthcare professional can help prevent infections or other complications.

A dog’s mouth is a breeding ground for several types of harmful bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Citrobacter freundii, and Enterobacter cloacae. If the dog bite punctured your skin, some bacteria could enter your bloodstream, causing more serious complications such as rabies, tetanus, and capnocytophaga.

You should seek immediate medical attention if any more symptoms develop in the hours after the dog bit you. They could be symptoms of capnocytophaga, a serious illness caused by bacteria that live in canine mouths. This is an illness that can become serious quickly if left untreated.

You might experience:

  • Persistent pain, redness, or swelling around the site of the bite
  • Blisters that form around the bite
  • Puss or fluids oozing from the wound
  • Stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • Fever-like symptoms, such as headache, confusion, muscle pain, joint pain, or stiffness

Two other potential illnesses can develop from dog bites: rabies and tetanus. If you suspect that the dog that bit you has rabies, seek medical attention immediately. If the dog that bit you was foaming at the mouth, had clouded eyes, or acted erratic, it could be infected with rabies.

Rabies is a very serious illness that is fatal if not treated immediately. Not all dogs infected with rabies will exhibit telltale symptoms. If you are bitten, it is crucial to seek medical attention quickly.

If it has been more than 5 years since your last tetanus booster, it is also a good idea to visit a doctor after any dog bite, no matter how minor. Tetanus is preventable with vaccination, and if it has been over 5 years since your last shot, it is important to get a booster immediately after a dog bite. 

Why You Should Speak to a Dog Bite Lawyer

Dog wounds are serious injuries that can often require expensive treatments. The law is clear, and you have the right to be compensated for your injury and any lost wages. If you have been bitten, you need legal representation that can help get you the restitution you deserve. The team at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers will fight for you.

Call our law firm today for a free consultation.

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