Trick or Treat Safety

If you have young children, they are probably already planning what to wear for Halloween.  Some parents opt to forego traditional trick-or-treating in favor of parties, haunted house tours, or one-location trick-or-treat events. For those who opt for the traditional trick-or-treating, here are some ways to help make it a fun and safe experience.

Costume Choices

  • Make sure to check the length and fit of children’s costumes before they go out. Costumes that are too long or too loose may restrict a child’s movement or may be a tripping hazard.
  • If cold weather is anticipated, long underwear and other layers can keep a child warm while not spoiling the look of their costume.
  • Face paint is more comfortable than a mask and allows for unrestricted vision.
  • If the costume is dark in color, make sure to sew or pin some reflective material on the costume so that your child can be seen by drivers.
  • If your child’s costume includes any type of weapon, make sure it is obvious from a distance that the weapon is not real. This is especially important for older children, who could be mistaken for an intruder in the dark. For maximum safety, any costume piece that resembles a firearm should be avoided.


Furthermore, children should carry a flashlight after dark. Children should also be instructed not to approach any house that does not have a sign, porch light, or other indication that the occupants are participating in trick-or-treat. Despite the name, “trick-or-treat,” children should be instructed not to play any pranks on non-participating neighbors.  A frightened homeowner may mistake a child for a burglar, to disastrous ends, or the prankster might encounter an aggressive or overly protective pet.



 While very young children are happy to trick-or-treat with their parents, older children prefer some freedom. Parents may give their older children a sense of freedom while still keeping an eye on them by restricting their children to known streets or neighborhoods, and by accompanying them to a location where they can be observed but not escorted. Children should be instructed not to enter any house or building unless their parents know and trust the occupants and have specifically given permission for the child to enter. Lastly, all children should observe the local trick-or-treat hours.


The Spoils of the Night

 Despite the numerous urban legends, verified incidents of tampering with Halloween candy are rare. Nevertheless, children should be instructed to bring all candy home before eating it so you can inspect it. Candy that is not in its original packaging, or in packaging that appears damaged, should be discarded.


New York Personal Injury Attorneys

 The attorneys and staff at The O’Brien Firm wish your family a safe and happy Halloween. If you or a family member is injured due to someone’s negligence, call us at 716-907-7777 for a free consultation.



Dealing With Car Accidents 

Accident of two cars on a highwayDriving on the road can be nerve-racking.

Even when you try to drive safely, there are always careless drivers around you that won’t take the same precautions as you do.

Not only must you make sure that you are driving well, but you must also be aware of your surroundings so that other drivers don’t cause you to have a car accident. 


Safety Tips 

While driving, there are certain safety precautions to keep in mind. Always make sure that you: 

  • Know where your blind spots are 
  • Adjust your mirrors so that you have the best visibility possible 
  • Secure your seatbelt as soon as you sit down and ensure that your passengers are buckled up as well 
  • Look around at your surroundings before backing your car out 
  • Do not drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol 
  • Do not drive while angry or emotional 
  • Avoid driving in poor weather 
  • Keep away from distractions such as your phone calls and text messages until you are parked 
  • Enable voice-controlled Bluetooth so that you do not have to use your mobile device

What To Do and Avoid If An Accident Occurs To You 

As soon as possible after a car accident, you should contact an attorney. The statute of limitations will begin running for you to file suit, so the sooner you call an attorney, the better the chance you will receive compensation. While this will clearly be a stressful time for you, you must make sure that you remain calm, proactive, and aware of your next choices. After calling and speaking with the police, your next step should be to contact legal help so that you do not hinder your claim. 

Things to remember for your possible suit to be successful is to be extremely careful about what you say to people, including on social media and to insurance companies.  

  1. Stay off social media: do not post anything on social media regarding your accident. This can possibly be misconstrued and/or used against you in your case. Insurance companies can easily find your profile and see what you have posted. Photos, medical concerns, and/or your injury status are all things that should be kept confidential between you and your attorney.  
  2. Do not talk about the accident: While you may want to update your friends and family about how you are doing, it is often best not to. You never know what they will repeat that could unintentionally hurt your case. Limit your updates as much as possible until your case is complete. 
  3. Do not give a recorded statement to an insurance company: After an accident, you are not obligated to talk to anyone about it. Insurance companies will likely try to contact you and ask for your statement, but you should refuse to do so without an attorney present. While it may not seem like a big deal, insurance companies will want to compensate you with the least amount of money possible to save money for their company. Additionally, you may not even know the extent of your injuries because you will not have had time to consult with a doctor or feel any symptoms.

Contact Us 

If you are involved in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact our experienced legal team at O’Brien Law Firm. We will be able to review what happened and advise you on what you should do next. Call us at (716) 907-7777 as soon as you can.  

5 Dangerous Types of Truck Accidents

Truck accidents cause significant property damage, severe injuries, and often death.  There are a number of reasons truck accidents are more dangerous than car crashes.  First, because of their size and weight, trucks require more stopping time than cars.  While the average passenger car requires 316 feet to come to a complete stop from a speed of 65 miles per hour, a semi-truck traveling the same speed requires 525 feet.  Other factors impacting a truck’s ability to stop include weather conditions, the tire treads, and the method in which the brakes are applied.  Additionally, the average car weighs around 5,000 pounds.  Semi-trucks, when fully loaded, can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.  This, of course, can also contribute to the extent of the damage sustained by persons and property.

There are several different types of truck accidents, as well as situations that contribute to truck accidents.  Many of these are addressed and discussed below.


As the name suggests, in a jackknife truck accident, the truck and trailer “jackknife” or form a “V” shape or 90-degree angle.  This happens when a truck driver brakes hard and fast.  The trailer skids out from behind the cab, creating a sharp angle to the cab, rather than staying in a linear formation.

Rear End

Where a truck is following too close, if traffic ahead slows or comes to a stop, the truck may rear end the driver in front of them.  Particularly when driven by newer truck drivers, unfamiliar with the need for additional space to stop the vehicle, the consequences of a truck / car rear end accident can be deadly.


Particularly where the trailer is fully loaded, rollovers can cause extreme property damage as well as personal injury.  Rollovers occur when the driver loses control of the truck, typically on a curve or sharp angle.  The truck slides across the pavement and rolls over.  This can cause injury to pedestrians and motorists alike.  When the contents of the trailer spill out onto the roadway, this, too, can lead to direct injury.  Contents of the trailer can also result in subsequent accidents, as motorists come upon the scene discovering unexpected debris in the road.

Tire Blowouts

Technically, a tire blowout, in and of itself, is not a type of truck accident.  However, when a weakened tire is subjected to certain conditions, it can explode.  Tire blowouts can happen to anyone on the road.  However, when 18 wheelers sustain tire blowouts, this can have extensive negative consequences.  These include flying debris from the shredded tire, loosened cargo from the loss of stability of the truck, loss of control of the truck, rollovers, and poor driving conduct of other drivers, reacting to the tire blowout.

Under Ride Accidents

Under ride accidents are often deadly, however, many people are unaware of this particular type of truck accident.  This type of accident occurs when two factors are present: first, the trucker stops quickly and unexpectedly; second, the car driver behind the truck was following too close and cannot stop in time.  Thus, the car “rear ends” the truck.  However, given the height differential, the car can travel partially under the trailer of the semi-truck, and become lodged underneath.  Given this occurs in a driver’s blind spot, the driver may remain unaware of the situation for miles, until another driver successfully signals them regarding the problem.

If You Have Been Injured in a Truck Accident

Truck accidents injure and kill people at a higher rate than car accidents.  If you or your family has suffered a loss due to a truck accident, you may be entitled to recovery for funeral expenses, unpaid medical bills, lost wages, employment retraining, and pain and suffering.  Contact the O’Brien Firm.  We offer free consultations, meeting with you and your family to discuss the losses you have experienced.  We are happy to meet you at the hospital or come to your home.  There is no fee unless we win your case.  Call us today to talk about your truck accident at (716) 907.7777.


Drunk Driving Ruins Lives

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person is killed every 51 minutes due to crashes involving a drunk driver.  Drunk drivers are responsible for about 1/3rd of all traffic related deaths in the United States.  Additionally, around 290,000 people are injured each year in drunk driving crashes.

How Alcohol Impacts Driving Ability

Drinking alcohol impacts people in many ways.  Alcohol affects the brain as it:

  • reduces brain function;
  • leads to impaired thinking;
  • impacts one’s ability to reason properly; and
  • affects muscle coordination.


Any one of these symptoms alone would impact one’s driving ability.  In combination, they can be deadly.  Many people think alcohol doesn’t impact them unless they are over the “legal limit” to drive. However, that is not the case.  Studies show that even a single alcoholic beverage can impact your ability to drive.  This is true for a glass of wine, a beer, or a single cocktail.  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports effects on drinking at blood alcohol concentrations as low as .02 (a single drink).


Common DUI Injuries

Of course, DUI crashes cause all sorts of injuries, just as other car accidents do.  However, there are some injuries that are more common in DUI crashes.  These are discussed briefly below:

Spinal Cord Injuries

The consequences of spinal cord injuries can be devastating.  Depending on the location and severity of the injury, spinal cord injuries can lead to partial or complete loss of use of one’s legs and arms.  Other back injuries, such as ruptured or slipped discs can also occur.

Knee Injuries and Leg Injuries

Knee and leg injuries are common in car crashes. This is particularly true with side impact collisions.  Torn ligaments and broken bones can result in both short term and long-term injuries.  Rehabilitation can take weeks or months.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury is often an unseen injury.  Unfortunately, traumatic brain injury is not always diagnosed right away.   It may take weeks or months for the symptoms of traumatic brain injury to present themselves.  Traumatic brain injury also may take months, or even years to recover from.  Sometimes, traumatic brain injuries have permanent consequences.

Chest Injuries

Injuries to the sternum are common in high speed crashes.  This is particularly true where one is not wearing a seatbelt and they come in contact with the steering wheel or dash.  Broken bones can cause additional injuries when they puncture vital organs.

Neck Injuries

Whiplash is a common injury in car crashes of any type.  However, a car crash can also crush the trachea or cause damage to the larynx.  Again, this is particularly true when one is not wearing a seatbelt.

We Hold Drunk Drivers Responsible

At the O’Brien Firm, we hold drunk drivers responsible for their actions.  You and your family should not have to suffer because of the reckless actions of a drunk driver.  Whether you have lost a loved family member or you or a loved one has been injured, we can help.  We fight hard to get the money you need to return to the life you once had.  Contact us at (716) 907.7777 for a free consultation.

Avoid Truck Accidents: Adopt these Trucker Safety Tips

The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) dedicates time and resources to educating truck drivers about how to safely operate their commercial vehicles.  Obviously, avoiding truck accidents is in everyone’s best interests.  Did you know 30 % of all fatal accidents in work zones involve at least one large truck?

Consistent with their mission, the FMCSA has offered nine safety tips to truckers in an attempt to avoid truck accidents.  While the intent of the original article was educating truckers about avoiding truck accidents, the tips have application to all drivers on the road.  Consequently, we offer these trucker safety tips for your safety.

1.  Safe Driving Requires Defensive Driving

Whether you are a truck driver, or a car driver, constant vigilance is required to detect unanticipated conditions, including distracted drivers, as well as changes in road conditions. By scanning about 15 seconds ahead of where you are, you have more time to discover work zones, other traffic issues, and general dangers, such as a car on the side of the road, or the presence of small children on a playground.  Try to look about a quarter of a mile ahead.  In residential areas, this translates to about one or two city blocks.  Check your mirrors regularly, so you know what is going on behind you.

2. Signal for Safety

Your turn signal provides others with notice of your intentions.  Whether you are planning to pass a vehicle on the left, take an upcoming exit ramp, or pull over, using your turn signal well in advance costs you nothing, and may just make the difference with a driver who’s attention is elsewhere.  If you pull off the road, run out of gas, or otherwise experience difficulty, use your flashers to alert other drivers of your slow moving vehicle.  If you need to pull off the road, do so completely.  Use reflective triangles and road flares to alert others of your presence.

3.  Slow Down!

Driving at the posted speed limit isn’t always the best or safest approach.  Take into consideration weather conditions, including snow, wet pavement, or the possibility of ice.  Slow down for curves, ramps, and traffic conditions.  While the speed limit provides a maximum pace, the law requires slower speeds when the conditions warrant it.

4. Observe Proper Maintenance

Maintain your vehicle.  Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding oil changes, tire rotations, brake repair, etc.  Make sure there are no obstructions in your line of sight.  Ensure your mirrors are properly positioned and clear of dirt.

5.  Buckle Up

Every day, on every trip, use your seat belt.  The data is indisputable.  Seat belts save lives, reduce the level of injury, and keep drivers and passengers inside their cars when there is a crash.  For truck drivers, 30 % of all truck drivers involved in accident fatalities were ejected either in total or in part, from their vehicles.  Seat belt use reduces the possibility of ejection.

6.  Drive at Your Best

Make sure you get enough rest before driving.  Drowsy driving kills.  Additionally, when you are sick, on medications, or feel dizzy, don’t drive.  Make sure you feel good enough to drive.  You are taking your life – and the lives of others, into your hands every time you get behind the wheel.

7.  Plan Ahead

If you are traveling some place new, take the time to get directions ahead of time.  Learn whether your trip involves steep hills, sudden curves, blind approaches, etc.  Additionally, whether you are driving some place new, or some place familiar, make sure you are up to date on weather conditions and road conditions.

8.  Respect Work Zones

Everyone has seen the warnings – fines double in work zones.  But driver safety is increasingly at risk in work zones.  Work zones present additional challenges, including sudden stops, uneven road surfaces, lane shifts, moving workers, slow moving equipment, as well as confused drivers.  Make sure you operate your car at a speed which will allow you to stop suddenly if need be. Give the driver in front of you extra room.  Scan the roadway ahead of you.  Above all, be prepared to stop.  Keep an eye out for road workers and crew.

9.  Beware of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving comes in many forms.  Eating, arguing, and talking on the phone all can lead to distracted driving.  Texting is perhaps the most dangerous activity of all while driving.  When texting, you increase a truck driver’s odds of a crash, a near crash, or an unintentional lane deviation by 23.2 times.  There is no reason to believe drivers of cars are in any less danger, or are any less distracted.  If you must text, pull off the road, or have a passenger text for you.

Stay Safe

Your safety, and the safety of those around you, is paramount.  Adopting the same driving precautions truckers use to avoid truck accidents makes you, and everyone on the road, safer.

If you have been injured in a truck accident or a car accident, don’t suffer alone.  At The O’Brien Firm, our lawyers understand the damage truck accidents and car accidents can cause.  We will meet with you at your home or in our office to discuss your case.  Let us help you recover money for your medical bills, your lost wages, and your pain and suffering.  Contact us to talk about your case for free.



How to Handle Driving in Snow

Driving during precipitation can put the best driver on edge. When that precipitation is snow, it’s much more anxiety-inducing. Knowing some simple tips can make the driving experience safer and less stressful for everyone on the road and avoid an accident. Here’s what to know before you get behind the wheel on a snowy day:


  • Gradually accelerate. Winter driving is slow driving, and your tires need time to get purchase in the snow – even snow tires. Avoid hitting the gas too hard and your tires won’t wind up spinning out under you in packed snow.


  • Gradually decelerate. Slamming on your brakes in a snow storm is asking for an accident, but it’s also instinct when drivers get nervous on the road. Practice slowing down at a gradual pace.


  • Don’t speed. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to speed up when traffic is light. To maintain adequate control of your car, keep it at a reasonable speed. A good rule of thumb for driving in the snow is 10 mph less than posted.


  • Give other cars room. Eight seconds of space is generally enough to stop if the car ahead of you has hit the brakes during good road conditions. In snow, that number should be more like 10 to 12 seconds.


  • Avoid lane switching. Find the lane with the clearest tracks, and stick to it. If you are lane hopping and the snow has been cleared from the highway, you will increase your risk of an accident by hitting snowy patches. What worse, those snowy patches may be hiding ice.


  • Avoid hard stops. Driving on snow is, in part, about physics. Stopping kills the grip your car has made on the road. Gradually slow down before red lights and stop signs. Start touching the brake at least the length of a football field before where you need to come to a stop.


  • Redirect your path for hills. If you know your car can handle hills in the snow, then hit them, but for most cars, the slickness of hills become easy places to get stuck and block traffic. Driving slowly helps, but your safest bet may be to avoid hills if you can.


If you find yourself sliding, don’t panic. It can be hard to overcome your instincts, but remain calm, avoid braking and turn into the direction of the slide. Turning against the slide will get you nowhere but frustrated. Winter driving isn’t for the faint of heart, but these tips can help keep you safe when the snow starts to fall.

If you ended up in an accident follow the following steps:

  1. Call 911.
  2. If you are able to, take photos of the cars involved in the crash.
  3. Do not decline medical attention if medical personnel suggests that you get treatment.
  4. Once you have been medically examined and released, consider contacting an attorney to be certain that your rights are protected.
  5. Ask your attorney to contact your insurance company to report the crash.
  6. Ask your attorney to help you fill out all insurance forms.
  7. Make sure you bring your no-fault insurance information to every doctor’s visit so that you do not incur any medical bills personally.
  8. Do not speak to any individual about the crash without your attorney being present. Insurance companies have adjusters who often attempt to take statements from people before they can hire an attorney. You have the right to determine if you want to cooperate with the other side’s insurance adjuster.

Prevent Auto Accidents This Season

Christmas may have passed, but many people still celebrate the season and are on the road in January. More people are on the road as they travel to spend time with faraway family and friends. More cars equals more chances for automobile accidents.


Three Ways to Prevent Auto Accidents on Busy Highways


When you travel during busy times, follow these three tips for safety:


  1. Monitor the weather ahead of time. Smart devices let you know temperatures and percentages of snow and rain, but they are no replacement for checking the radar. Take a look at what to expect before you hit the highway.


  1. Keep an eye on speed. It can be very easy to drive fast on an open highway, but speeding also means you don’t have as much control of your car, and less time to predict and respond to surprise situations.


  1. Don’t follow too close. Keep at least one car length of space between you and the vehicle in front of you when traffic is flowing. When you tailgate, you sacrifice control – there’s not a lot you can do if the driver ahead needs to slam on his brakes. Stay safe with extra space.


What to Watch for During the New Year’s Holiday


Traffic on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is in a category all its own. January 1 has the distinction of being the day with the most number of traffic incidents. Ringing in a new year and new hopes is fun, but lots of people underestimate their alcohol consumption and get behind the wheel to hit the highways. It is crucial to employ defensive driving this time of year. Between New Year’s parties and bowl games, many people are celebrating – and not always self-aware. Stay safe behind the wheel by:


  • Placing room between you and other cars on the road. Assume someone around you has had too much to drink.


  • Following all the rules. When you know others may not be driving safely, adhering to all traffic laws can protect you in an accident.


  • If you plan on drinking at all, leave your car keys with your host, or travel with a designated driver who will not be consuming alcohol.


  • Sleep over. Try to avoid being on the roads during these nights if you can. Taking yourself out of the equation keeps you safe.


Be Safe All Year Long


Take caution when you are on the highway no matter what time of year you travel. When you are on the road for the holidays, drive with extra care.

Viagra, Cialis, and Similar Drugs Double the Risk of Melanoma, Studies Find

Viagra, Cialis, and other erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs may raise more than just your libido, a number of studies suggest.

The results of several studies, conducted by different experts, in different locations, during different years, have suggested a positive link between the use of phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors and the likelihood of developing melanoma. PDE inhibitors are mainly used to treat ED by increasing the flow of blood to the penis. However, the same chemicals which allow it to do this also prevent the body from blocking the growth of cells responsible for melanoma.

In 2014, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine published the results of a long-term study with almost 26,000 male participants was conducted in the US by a team lead Qing Li, PhD, of the Harvard Medical School. These results suggested that the use of Viagra could increase the risk of developing melanoma by more than 80 percent, which is nearly double the risk associated with non-users.

In 2015, the results of a separate study were published. This time, researchers collected data from almost 24,000 male participants in Sweden. Despite the differences though, both studies came to the similar conclusions.

In 2016, the Cell Reports published one more study led by Robert Feil of the University of Tübingen, one of Germany’s oldest and most famous universities. The results of his team’s research suggest that a class of ED drugs called sildenafil, which includes Viagra, can actually encourage the growth of skin tumors, provided that they are consumed frequently enough and in high enough doses.

Following the publication of these studies, especially the one released in 2014, hundreds of individuals have filed lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, the manufacturer of Viagra. Most of these claims mainly allege that the pharmaceutical companies have the duty to ensure the quality and safety of their products.  Additionally, they should provide the consumers with adequate warning as to the potential side effects of their products, so that they can make a more informed decision as to whether or not they should use the same.  Taken as a whole, these allegations suggest that the companies involved put their desire for profit above and beyond their responsibilities to the consumer.

If adequate warning was provided, many unfortunate victims may have avoided contracting melanoma by choosing not to take ED drugs, or they could have at least received early diagnosis and treatment for the disease because they were specifically looking for its symptoms.

Should you be an ED drug user who is experiencing symptoms of melanoma, consult a medical professional right away. If you’re still interested in filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer after you’ve received the requisite treatment, rest assured that the O’Brien Firm is ready, willing, and more than qualified to take your case.

How to Avoid Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Accidents involving tractor-trailers or big rigs, as they’re more popularly called, kill thousands of people every year. In fact, there were over 300,000 accidents, causing over 100,000 injuries and almost 4,000 deaths, in the year 2012 alone. Unsurprisingly, a related study also found that over 70% of the fatalities caused by these accidents were occupants of the other vehicle, the one that collided with the tractor-trailer. With that said, it’s easy to see just how important it is to be careful around these highway behemoths.

Although the usual road safety tips, such as staying alert, driving within the speed limit, and observing basic traffic rules, should obviously be observed, there are also quite a few special tips that relate directly to avoiding tractor-trailer accidents. Here are some of them:

Beware of blind spots. A “blind spot” refers to the place which can’t be seen in a vehicle’s rearview and side mirrors. While every car has a blind spot, the ones on a 10 to 80 thousand pound tractor-trailer are understandably larger than the blind spots on regular vehicles.

To ensure that the truck driver is able to see you, it’s highly recommended that you stay at least four car-lengths away. Moreover, remember to drive defensively. Unless the contrary clearly appears to be the case, always assume that the truck driver can’t see you and act accordingly.

If you must pass, do it quickly. As mentioned in the preceding tip, it can be very easy for truck drivers to miss smaller vehicles, especially if they happen to be in their blind spot. With that said, it clearly stands to reason that you should avoid travelling alongside them as much as possible.

“What’s the worst that could happen,” the unimaginative may ask. Well, if the truck driver can’t see you, there’s a pretty good chance that he may force you into another car while he’s changing lanes. At worst, if you travel between two big rigs, you may even be squished between them if either of the two decides to move closer together.

Be extra careful while changing lanes. Keep in mind that the sheer size of the tractor-trailer often makes it challenging to maneuver. This is exactly why some jurisdictions require a special type of driver’s license before a person can operate a big rig. Unfortunately, even the most qualified individuals can make mistakes, especially when they’re caught off guard. To help minimize the risk of these costly mistakes, always give fair warning to the driver before attempting to change lanes. Needless to say, you also need to give them this warning while you’re not in the driver’s blind spot.

Yield the right-of-way. Tractor-trailers take longer to speed up, slow down, and stop; they need to make wider turns; they are extremely difficult to back up; they even have difficulty changing lanes. In other words, trucks are simply more difficult to drive. Considering that, it probably goes without saying that it’s in everyone’s best interests that we give trucks the right-of-way. After all, nobody comes out on top after a car accident.


Dog Bite Lawyer 

There are over 80 million dogs kept by over 50 million households in the US. But despite being man’s best friend, the love that we show dogs isn’t always reciprocated. In fact, a relatively recent study has shown that there are almost one million dog bite victims per year. Moreover, almost one out of every five bites is serious enough to require medical attention, a little more than one thousand victims per day are sent to the emergency room, and over 25 thousand people per year undergo reconstructive surgery to remedy the bite.

With that said, it’s easy to see why it’s so important to learn about your legal right to recover damages from dog bite injuries. So, let’s get right down to it. Here’s what you need to do in case of a dog bite:

  1. Get medical attention. This should go without saying, but the very first thing that you need to do after you get bitten by a dog is to get medical attention. The size and severity of the bite doesn’t even matter. You should always get medical attention just to be safe. If you are not treated promptly, a dog bite – or any animal bite for that matter – can and will cause a serious infection. What’s even worse is that the same infection can potentially cause death, especially if the dog was diseased at the time of the incident.
  2. Note the details. Although this may be a difficult time, always try to keep your cool. Jot down the details of the attack or at least keep a mental note of them. The more details you can remember, the easier it will be for you to make a legal claim. To support your claim, you should also get a certificate from your doctor which clearly states that you’ve been medically evaluated, as well as the extent of the injuries you’ve suffered. A statement from a witness of the attack can also be instrumental in helping you prevail in the case. This statement should obviously include the name of the witness, his contact information, and his detailed testimony on the incident. Lastly, make absolutely sure that you get the dog owner’s name and contact information. If you don’t get to meet the owner or you don’t find his contact information on the dog’s collar, try asking the witnesses, neighbors or other people in the immediate area.
  3. Call your attorney. Once you’ve got your notes in order, it’s time to consult your lawyer. After you’re done with the pleasantries, chances are that he’ll ask about the details of the attack and the documents you have to support your claim. Here’s where your notes, medical certificate, and witness testimony will come in handy. He might even offer to call the dog owner for you to negotiate a settlement.

Determining the Person Liable

The person liable for the dog bite may differ from state to state. But more often than not, that person will turn out to be the dog owner.

Some states impose a principle referred to as “strict liability.” Based on this principle, the dog owner will always be liable for the attack, regardless of whether or not he was negligent. Conversely, other states may require the victim to prove the presence of negligence on the part of the owner or other liable person. In relation to this, these states may have a “one bite rule,” which basically means that the owner will only be held strictly liable for the resulting injuries if the he knew of the dog’s “dangerous propensities.” These dangerous propensities are often considered to have manifested if the owner knew that the dog had previously attacked another person. Finally, a number of states also combine the one bite rule with strict liability. In New York, for example, the owner is strictly liable for the victim’s medical expenses after the first attack. If you want to be compensated fully for your lost wages, pain, suffering, and property damage, you will need to prove that the owner knew about the dog’s dangerous propensities.

Other persons who are potentially liable can include the following:

  1. Animal keeper. If an individual, other than the owner, has custody of the dog, then he can potentially be held liable for any injuries that the dog might cause whole in his care. Examples of animal keepers may include dog sitters and kennels.
  2. Parents or guardians. If the owner of the animal is a minor, then he obviously cannot be held liable for the injuries. Instead, the victim may sue his parents, whether or not they were involved in the attack.
  3. Property owners. A property owner who allows the dog to stay in his property is much like an animal keeper who has custody over the dog. If the dog attacks someone while it’s on his property, he can be held liable for the injuries that it caused.
  4. Landlords. Landlords are property owners in a sense. So, if they allow a dangerous animal on their property, then they can be held liable in case it attacks.

Determining the Amount of Damages

The type and amount of damages you can recover will depend on the injuries you sustained. In general however, victims are often compensated for their medical expenses, pain, suffering, property damage, and lost wages. Additionally, victims may also be entitled to punitive damages if the court allows. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the person liable for his dangerous acts or omissions, which in this case may either be intentional conduct or reckless negligence. For example, if the dog owner recklessly allowed his a large dog with dangerous propensities to run free near a school zone and the animal eventually attacks a child of tender years, then the court may determine that punitive damages are in order.