Recognizing the risk of dog bites is important whether you own a dog personally or not. Whether it's the neighbor's dog or one that gets loose, you can completely eliminate the risk of getting bit. What you can do, however, is be fully prepared for how to deal with such an injury if it should occur.

Remember that if you're bitten by someone else's dog, you may have the right to file a personal injury suit to get reimbursement for your medical costs and any lost work. Here are a few tips to help you handle a dog bite situation.

Document the Incident

It's essential that you have as much documentation of the situation as possible. One of the best things you can do is use your cell phone to get pictures of the wounds right away. If possible, get pictures of the dog and the location where the accident happened, too. If there's anything unusual in the area that may have contributed to what happened, such as if an ice cream truck spooked the dog, get a picture of that as well.

One of the things that many people forget to do is get pictures of any bystanders. You may find that you need witnesses later, so get a couple of pictures of the witnesses who are standing around. Take note of names and phone numbers as well so you have a way to contact them.

Seek Medical Help

If the bite has broken the skin, you should call for emergency medical help right away. Remember that the wound will need to be thoroughly cleaned and bandaged. You may even need stitches or surgery if the wound is deep enough.

Your doctor will examine the area around the dog bite, assessing the severity of it. If the skin is broken, he or she will check the nerves and muscle tissue beneath. If there's any damage to that tissue, it needs to be repaired and treated right away.

In addition, you'll receive an antibiotic rinse and cleaning before stitching the wound. This is essential because dog bites introduce harmful bacteria that could make you ill.

Find Out About the Dog

One of the first things you'll need to know about the dog that bit you is whether or not it has been vaccinated against rabies. If you don't know or the dog can't be caught to be observed, you may be placed on a rabies vaccine regimen for safety. If the dog was captured and quarantined, they'll monitor for signs of rabies and only treat you for it if there are active signs.

Getting bit by a dog can be stressful—contact a dog bite attorney to start the process.