When it comes to dogs and kids, people frequently want to see them as natural best friends. Unfortunately, more than 4.5 million dog bites happen every year in the U.S. Those dog bites can cause serious harm to children, and parents may take legal actions against the dog owners responsible.
In order to understand your rights as a parent of a child bitten by a dog, it is important to understand dog bite myths.
Myth #1:Children Are Unlikely to Be Bitten
The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh cites that more than 50% of all victims of dog attacks are children. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 50% of all children under the age of 12 have previously been bitten by a dog. Dogs and children may get along often, but in many cases, children are the most frequent and most vulnerable of an aggressive dog's victims.
Myth #2: Dog Bites Are Not Serious
Many people believe that getting bitten or "nipped" by a dog is not that serious, but for children, dog bites prove to be a serious matter that results in hospitalizations and death. Dog bites are the second most common reason for children to go to the emergency room. While adults may be able to escape a dog bite without getting a serious injury, children are much more likely to suffer from severe injuries.
In 2019 alone, 13 children were killed by dog attacks. While dog advocates may claim that number is too small to be significant, those are 13 families whose lives will forever be changed because of a dog attack. Those families definitely have legal rights to pursue a case against the dogs' owners.
Myth #3: Dogs Will Give Children a Warning Sign
A popular myth that exists about dogs and biting is that well-behaved children will be able to see that a dog is irritated and have time to withdraw from the dog's presence. This belief requires the child to be able to understand the warning signs that a dog gives. However, most children focus on the face of a dog alone and misunderstand the dog's warning signs.
Children also mistakenly believe that common signs of human affection are welcome to dogs. These common examples of human affection may result in dog bites against children:
● Hugging the dog
● Sitting too close to the dog
● Putting an arm around the dog's neck
Although the child may misunderstand the dog's intentions, that does not place the liability with the child. When a dog is out of control and causes harm to another person the owner is held legally responsible.
Myth #4: Children Provoke Dogs by Approaching Them at the Wrong Time
When a dog owner realizes that they are legally responsible for a dog bite or attack, they may try to shift the blame. Perhaps they will say that the child approached the dog when it had a toy in its mouth or when it was eating. Not only does that not change the fact that dog owners are still legally liable for the actions of their dog, but growling, biting, or being aggressive over their toys or food is not normal dog behavior. It is up to the owner to put a stop to that undesirable behavior.
Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If your child has been bitten by a dog, your local animal control organizations may not be providing you much assistance. If this is the dog's first bite, they may even allow the dog to remain with the owner. Contacting a qualified attorney can help to ensure that the owner is held legally responsible for failing to control their dog. You may also be able to receive financial compensation to help deal with medical and therapy bills.