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What Happens If My Child Gets Bitten By A Dog?

boy and dog
Madeleine Jones
February 25, 2021

Dog bites are one of the most common reasons why a child ends up in the emergency room. Actually, more than half of all children below the age of 12 have been bitten by dogs. Half of all these accidents happen in the family home or in the child’s neighborhood. When a child gets bitten by a dog it can end in permanent scarring and emotional distress. Learn why a dog bite lawsuit can be your best option to get the compensation your child needs.

Dog chasing after a ball in the park. The dog has an aggressive expression on it's face.

Four Steps To Take When a Child Gets Bitten By a Dog

After you rescue your child from a dog attack, make sure you are both in a safe space and away from the dog. Attend your child and his/her wounds as best as you can and follow these next steps.

#1 Call 911

After the dog attack, if your child is very young, don’t wait for them to stop crying to call 911. You can calm and soothe your child while help is on the way. Tell the 911 operator that your child has been a victim of a dog attack and you need emergency medical services. Stay on the phone to answer all of the operator’s questions.

Even if your kid’s injuries seem minor, it is very important your kid still receives medical attention. A small scratch can lead to a serious infection and even rabies.

#2 Identify The Dog’s Owner

Locate the dog’s owner. If you need to, notify them of the dog attack. Ask them for their information, including name, address, and phone number. Explain that because of their dog attacking your child, they now have serious injuries needing emergency treatment.

You should also get the dog owner’s policy number and their homeowner’s insurance company contact information.

#3 Call Animal Control

It is essential for you to file a complaint with your local animal control department. A prompt report ensures that the city will take the appropriate actions to quarantine the dog or to protect people from further attacks.

The report from animal control will help to verify the date, time, location, and circumstances of the dog attack. This will be helpful to you when filing a personal injury claim with the dog owner.

This report can also be used as evidence that the dog owner acted negligently.

#4 Collect Evidence of the Dog Bite

Any evidence of the scene where the dog bite took place can have a big impact on your child’s injury claim. If you take the time to collect evidence after the dog bite, it can really make a difference in the compensation your child can receive later.

The strongest evidence you can gather is your child’s bloodied clothes. Don’t throw them in the washing machine, or try to remove any bloodstains. Instead, put them in a bag to keep them safe. Label that bag with the date and time of the dog bite.

Any photos or videos you can take make for really compelling evidence. Take photos of anything you can find, from a hole in the dog owner’s fence, to any blood found on the ground. We realise that it might not be possible to do this while trying to console an injured child, so if there are witnesses around, you should ask them if they would help with the photographs.

Take pictures of your kid’s injuries when the attack took place and as he/she goes through treatment and recovery.

Any witness statements you can get can be crucial to your kid’s personal injury claim. Jurors and insurance companies take these statements very seriously. Get their names and contact information and ask them to write what they saw. 

Hiring A Personal Injury Attorney For A Dog Bite

You should not listen to anybody that tells you it’s easy to accept the insurance company’s initial settlement. Insurance companies will offer low compensation to people who don’t have legal representation.

In all honesty, it’s complicated to settle a severe injury claim for a child that is underage. It generally needs court approval. You should never underestimate the effects a dog bite can have on a child. Emotional and physical scars can last a lifetime in a kid.

Having an experienced dog bite attorney is the best option you have to make sure your child gets fair compensation for their injuries, pain, and suffering, as well as protecting their future.

Your attorney will be able to potentially recover compensation for you too. This compensation may cover the costs of medical care and even for your lost wages for the time you spent taking care of your injured child.

What Happens if Your Child Gets Blamed For The Dog Bite?

This is another great reason why you should hire a personal injury attorney. A lawyer can help you counter these false accusations made against your kid. Sometimes, a dog owner or their insurance company will defend themselves by blaming your kid for provoking the dog. They will try to argue that your child did something to entice the dog. Otherwise, their dog would not have bitten your child.

Examples of Provocation

Some of the most common examples of provocation used in court to shift the blame is the following:

  • Pulling on dog’s tail
  • Stepping on dog’s tail
  • Teasing the dog
  • Trapping the dog in a small space
  • Hitting the dog

Sometimes these tactics can work. By blaming the victim the dog owner can protect himself from liability for your child’s injuries. Although, in cases of younger children, arguing provocation doesn’t work that well if they’re facing a skilled attorney.

Small children don’t know any better and don’t really understand that their behavior can make a dog attack them. Your lawyer will use case law to show the court that young children are not likely to intentionally provoke a dog.

Unintentional Provocation

If the dog is nervous by nature they may become startled and defensive by the slightest agitation. If a child unknowingly makes a sudden movement towards the dog or the owner, it could cause a negative reaction. This is known as unintentional provocation and it is the responsibility of the dog owner to know their pet’s personality, and train them to act appropriately in public.

Handling The Homeowners Insurance Company

Like we mentioned before, the majority of dog bites to kids happen at home or in their neighborhood. Since most homeowners have insurance, payment for a child’s injury damages can be covered under one of the two sections of a homeowners’ insurance policy:

  1. Medical Coverage: it covers medical bills up to $1,000.
  2. Liability Coverage: liability and negligence have to be proven in order to get paid. The limits on this coverage range from $100,000 to $300,000.

These coverages, however, only cover guests or visitors in your home. They don’t cover your injured family members who live with you.

My Dog Bit My Child

If your kid got bitten in your home by your own dog, there is no coverage available in your homeowner policy.

However, if your child was seriously injured at your house, you should take a copy of your homeowner’s insurance policy to your attorney. They will be able to contact your insurance company and try to get compensation.

Dog Bite Attorneys in Las Vegas

If your child gets bitten by a dog, you should consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. You could qualify for a settlement. Call the experienced attorneys at Cogburn Law at (702) 748-7777 for a free initial consultation.

When I was bitten by a dog, I did not know where to go. I was recommended to speak with attorney Jamie Cogburn. Jamie was friendly and professional. He guided me through the process of making my claim. He always kept me informed and was available to take my telephone calls personally. The Cogburn Law team exceeded my expectations for handling and settling my case. They resolved my case in a short period of time. I would highly recommend them to my family and friends. Thank you for everything!

Elena S.