Do Doctors Have to Report Dog Bites in Iowa?
In most situations, a person seeing a doctor for any traumatic injury may assume their doctor is obliged to report the details to law enforcement or some other authority- especially if the circumstances surrounding the injury involve an attack. However, people may not consider that dog bites are also attacks with legal consequences, and the doctor’s report to the police can impact a case.
That said, victims may wonder: do doctors have to report dog bites in Iowa, and if so, what are the requirements?
The Short Answer
Doctors in Iowa are not required to report dog-related injuries to the police- but they should report them to animal control. They are expected to submit a form to the local animal control agency with the complete details of the injury and whatever information they have about the attack so officials can decide how to proceed.
When Do Doctors Have to Report Dog Bites in Iowa?
Technically, a doctor should inform the local animal control authorities every time a patient comes in with a dog bite. That said, there are some circumstances when they may decide not to.
If a person has been grazed by their own dog while playing, the wound is insignificant, and it seems clear that it was a playful mishap rather than an attack, the doctor may take a liberal approach to their reporting duties. It is important to note that they should report every case, but they may not if they believe- and the owner confirms- there is no danger present.
Why Do Doctors Report Dog Bites in Iowa?
The purpose of reporting dog-related injuries is to identify dangers in the community and avoid recurring incidents. If a doctor fails to report an injury, and the same dog severely injures someone else, it could be seen as a breach of duty.
Even if nothing further comes of the report at the time of a bite, the record is with the local animal control authorities in case a similar incident occurs. At that point, they can see a pattern and choose to act. Without these reports on file, a dog could bite many people, and there is no paper trail to confirm it. An unidentified dangerous animal can pose a serious threat.
These reports are also important for legal claims following a dog-related injury, as they provide valuable evidence to support a victim’s case.
Who Is Responsible for Ensuring a Report Is Filed?
Doctors are legally required to report dog bites to animal control authorities, but victims should always ask for proof that it has been done. Some health professionals may decide to use discretion, and human error has to be taken into account- so the victim should insist the report is filed and follow up when possible.
If the victim has any concerns about the report being filed, dog bite attorneys in Des Moines can help ensure all required documentation is properly filed.
Dog Bites, Doctor Reports, and Legal Claims
As mentioned, the doctor’s report is a valuable piece of evidence in a personal injury claim against a dog’s owner. In Iowa, liability generally falls on the owner in almost every circumstance (with very few exceptions), but the extent of damages and compensation varies from case to case.
The doctor’s report can back up claims for reimbursement of medical bills, medications, and follow-up care. In some cases where injuries are severe, there can also be cause to pursue pain and suffering compensation for the mental and emotional impact of the attack.
When to Speak to a Lawyer
Anyone who is bitten or attacked by a dog should seek medical attention immediately and then contact a lawyer straight away. The first call once the injuries are assessed should be to an Iowa attorney with experience handling dog bite claims.
A lawyer can assist in the following ways:
Ensure all medical reports are filed and made available for building a case
Pursue maximum compensation for personal injuries and pain and suffering
Gather evidence to support the claim
Navigate around any defense claims made by the dog’s owner
In short, a lawyer can fight the case while the victim recovers.
Contact Tom Fowler Law Today
Tom Fowler is a passionate and experienced personal injury attorney- with unrivaled expertise in dog bite claims in Iowa as well as Workers' Comp claims. Contact the team now for elite legal services you can trust.