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What Happens if a Dog Bites a Child?

By ReshLawApril 11, 2024
What happens if a dog bites a child

The majority of dog bite incidents occur in children aged 4 to 9. Due to their height, dogs prefer to attack younger children in the neck and/or face; however, as children get older, dog bites are more commonly directed at their extremities.

When a dog bites a child, it's a frightening experience for everyone involved. It can happen unexpectedly and cause a lot of worry about the child's health and legal consequences. Knowing what to do immediately after can help ensure the child's safety and protect your rights.

At ReshLaw Accident & Injury, we can help you decide what steps to take legally and medically to address the bite.

Dog bites can result in substantial injuries, especially for children who are more vulnerable due to their size and lack of understanding of the dog's body language.

If a dog bites your child, it's essential to know what to do to ensure proper care. Legal implications also come into play, as dog owners should be held responsible for how their pets act.

Understanding your legal rights and the necessary steps to take following a dog bite can substantially affect the outcome of your case.

Immediate Actions Following a Dog Bite on a Child

  1. Seek medical attention immediately. Even if the bite seems minor, it's essential to get it checked by a healthcare professional. Dog bites could cause serious complications, such as infection.
  2. Report the bite to local animal control. Reporting helps document the incident and ensures the dog is checked for rabies and other diseases. It's a necessary step for public safety and legal reasons.
  3. Gather information about the dog and its owner. Obtain the contact information of the dog's owner and any witness details in a secure manner, if at all feasible. For medical and legal purposes, this information will be vital.
  4. Take photos of the injuries. Immediate documentation of the injury can serve as key evidence in the event that a legal claim is initiated.
  5. Do not sign any documents without consulting a lawyer. The dog owner or their insurance company could get you to sign papers. Always talk to a dog bite lawyer first.
  6. Educate your child on how to interact with dogs. Teach kids to be cautious around unfamiliar dogs to prevent future incidents. Understanding a dog's body language can help.
  7. Consult a dog bite lawyer. A lawyer specializing in dog bites can advise you on the best course of action and help you navigate the legal system.

Legal Implications of Dog Bites on Children

Legal implications of dog bites on children

Dog bites on children often lead to more severe legal consequences for dog owners.

In many places, laws protect children from animal attacks, holding dog owners to a higher standard of care. This means that if a dog bites a child, the owner might face more harsher penalties and be more likely to have to compensate the victim.

Understanding Liability and Homeowner's Insurance Coverage

Dog owner liability means the dog's owner is usually responsible for any harm the pet causes. Most homeowner's insurance policies cover dog bites, meaning the insurance might pay for your child's medical bills and other damages.

However, insurance companies frequently attempt to reduce the amount they pay, so legal representation is essential.

In some cases, homeowner's insurance disputes the claim, especially if the dog is a breed considered high risk or has a history of aggression.

A knowledgeable dog bite attorney can navigate these complexities and protect your child's rights. Reach out to us today for help recovering compensation for your serious injuries.

Special Considerations for Incidents Involving Minors

Special legal considerations come into play when the victim of a dog bite is a minor. For example, minors cannot legally file a lawsuit, so a parent or guardian must do it.

In addition, settlements for minors often require court approval to protect the child's interests. This can lengthen the negotiation process and require additional paperwork to finalize the settlement.

Assessing the Owner's Liability in Preventing the Incident

Assessing the owner's liability in preventing the incident

Determining the dog owner's liability involves examining whether the owner took appropriate measures to prevent the dog from attacking. This includes securing the dog, warning others of potential danger, and adhering to local ownership and control laws.

Owners who neglect to implement these precautions may incur liability for the incident on the grounds of negligence. Comprehending these elements is imperative for successfully prosecuting a claim for a dog bite.

Comparative Negligence and Its Impact on Compensation

Comparative negligence examines the role the victim might have played in provoking the dog or otherwise contributing to the incident.

Courts often hold dog owners to a higher standard in cases involving children, recognizing that children may not understand the risks of interacting with dogs.

However, if an older child's actions significantly contributed to the incident, it might reduce the compensation the family is entitled to. Legal guidance is essential in navigating these nuances.

What Injuries Do Kids Suffer in Dog Attacks?

  • Puncture wounds. These deep wounds are common and can lead to infections if not properly treated.
  • Facial injuries. Children are at eye level with many dogs, making facial bites common, which can require reconstructive surgery.
  • Broken bones. When larger dogs bite or knock down a child, broken bones can occur.
  • Lacerations. Cuts from dog bites might need stitches and can leave scars.
  • Nerve damage. Severe bites can damage nerves, sometimes permanently affecting sensation and movement.
  • Psychological trauma. Beyond physical injuries, children may develop a fear of dogs or suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Rabies and other diseases. If the dog is not vaccinated, there's a risk of rabies or other diseases transmitted through saliva.

Compensation for Injuries and Damages

Compensation for injuries and damages
  • Medical expenses. This includes immediate treatment costs, surgeries, medications, and future medical care related to the dog bite.
  • Pain and suffering. Compensation can cover the physical pain and emotional distress the child experiences because of the attack.
  • Lost wages for parents. If a parent has to miss work to care for their injured child, they might be compensated for lost income.
  • Future medical expenses. If the child needs ongoing medical treatment or therapy, these future costs can be included in the compensation.
  • Reconstructive surgery costs. Compensation can include the costs of necessary reconstructive surgeries for disfiguring injuries.

The Process of Filing a Claim for a Dog Bite on a Child

  1. Consult a dog bite attorney. A lawyer can guide you through the process and protect your child's rights.
  2. Gather evidence. Collect medical records, photos of injuries, witness statements, and any reports filed with local animal control.
  3. File the claim. Your lawyer will file a claim under the dog owner's insurance policy.
  4. Negotiate with the insurance company. Your lawyer will handle negotiations to reach a fair settlement.
  5. File a lawsuit if necessary. Your lawyer could submit a lawsuit if the insurer does not agree to a fair settlement. 
  6. Prepare for court. Your lawyer will prepare your dog bite case for court, including gathering expert testimony if needed.
  7. Settlement or trial. The case will either settle out of court or go to trial, where a judge or jury will decide the outcome.

Obstacles in the Legal System with a Minor as the Victim

Legal cases involving minors have unique challenges. Courts take extra steps to ensure that settlements are in the child's best interest. This often involves a longer process with more oversight, which can delay access to funds needed for the child's recovery.

Settlements and the Role of Guardians in Legal Proceedings

Guardians play an important role in legal proceedings for child dog bite claim. They must act in the child's best interest, making decisions about the legal process and any settlements. Courts may require a guardian ad litem to represent the child's interests directly.

What Is the Prognosis for a Child After a Dog Attack?

The prognosis for a child after a dog attack depends on the severity of the injuries and the psychological impact.

Physical recovery may involve surgeries and rehabilitation, and emotional recovery can require counseling and support. Most children recover well with proper care, but some may have lasting physical or emotional scars.

It's important to monitor the child for signs of psychological distress following an attack. Early intervention with counseling can help children process the trauma and reduce long-term emotional impacts.

How ReshLaw Accident & Injury Supports Families

ReshLaw Accident & Injury understands the traumatic impact a dog attack can have on a child and their family. We provide comprehensive legal support to navigate the aftermath of such incidents. Our team works tirelessly to secure the compensation necessary for your child's recovery and future needs.

Our firm holds negligent dog owners accountable and ensures insurance companies fulfill their obligations. We fight for your child's right to a full physical and emotional recovery.

Let ReshLaw Accident & Injury Fight for Your Child After a Dog Bite

Let ReshLaw Accident & Injury fight for your child after a dog bite

If your child has been the victim of a dog bite, it's of utmost importance to have experienced legal representation.

ReshLaw Accident & Injury specializes in helping families affected by dog bites navigate the legal system and secure the compensation they deserve. When dogs bite children, the results can be catastrophic.

Even a seemingly minor dog bite incident with an unfamiliar dog can lead to a serious injury. First, take your child to see a doctor for a dog bite injury. Then, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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