Dog attacks are a lot more common than you think. In fact, more than 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs in the United States each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hundreds of thousands of these victims will need serious medical attention.

Dog attacks can be traumatizing and put a victim in a state of shock. However, it is important to remember the following information in order to protect your rights and avoid additional injury after an attack.

Top three things you should do after a dog attack:

  1. Identify the animal’s owner: It is important to get the owner’s name, address and phone number. If the owner can provide the dog’s registration, it can be beneficial to have that as well. If an owner is not around, it can be helpful to call the police. Even if the owner is around, the police can help you gather information and document that the attack occurred.
  2. Talk to any witnesses: It can be helpful to have an eye-witness to support your story that you did not provoke the animal. Make sure to get the witness’s information in case you want to follow up in the future.
  3. Seek medical attention: Doctors can help clean up your wounds to prevent diseases and ensure that there are not any internal injuries. It can also help to have medical documentation if you choose to bring a lawsuit.

Each state has dog bite laws in place in order to protect citizens rights when they are victims of a dog attack. According to the Animal Control Act in Illinois:

“If a dog or other animal, without provocation, attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person who is peaceably conducting himself or herself in any place where he or she may lawfully be, the owner of such dog or other animal is liable in civil damages to such person for the full amount of the injury proximately caused thereby.”

Dog attacks can cause serious and life-threatening injuries. If you or someone you love sustained an injury from a dog attack, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.