Though well-trained and cared-for dogs may provide families with years of love and enjoyment, poorly-trained or neglected dogs may pose significant threats to not only the families who own them but to anyone with whom such dogs come into contact. More than 4 million US citizens are bitten by dogs every year, resulting in 368,000 emergency-room visits that could have been made unnecessary if dog-owners had provided their pets with adequate training and care.
Children are more vulnerable to dog-bite injuries than adults, with children under the age of 9 (and boys, in particular) constituting the group with the highest risk for major dog-bite injuries. Children are especially vulnerable because
- they are less likely to know how to behave around dogs
- children’s loud and unpredictable behavior can put dogs on edge
- any dog-bites that are inflicted on a child will cover a relatively large percentage of the child’s body due to the child’s smaller size.
Children’s dog-bite injury attorney Jeffrey Killino has extensive experience with cases involving dog-bite injuries suffered by children and can assist you in obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled. If your child has been injured by an uncontrolled or aggressive dog, contact attorney Killino for advice regarding your legal options.
Important Information Regarding Dog-bites Sustained by Children
Some important facts to know about dog bites suffered by children are:
- Children are more likely than adults to be bitten on the face, neck, or head.
- 47% of dog-bite victims under the age of 4 are attacked by the family’s own dog.
- Since the 1990s, the number of fatal dog-attacks that occurs each year has increased significantly.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), most reconstructive surgeries required as a result of dog bites are performed on children. At least one AAP representative has predicted that half of all children will suffer a dog-bite injury before they graduate from high school.
Dangerous Breeds: Do They Really Exist?
Some breeds, such as pit bulls or Rottweilers, have reputations for aggression and for posing a high risk of dog-bite injuries. Though some breeds are more likely to be involved in fatal attack than others, all breeds can be dangerous, and no breed is inherently so. Dogs with reputations for aggression are often bred and trained to be fierce, resulting in a level of aggression that might not have existed without such breeding or training.
German Shepherds and Chow Chows are the pure-bred dogs considered most likely to bite. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, however, due to their strength and inbred endurance, are the breeds whose attacks are considered most likely to be fatal.
Legal Liability for Dog-bite Injuries
The law related to liability for dog-bite injuries varies from state to state. Many states’ dog-bite laws are prescribed by dog-bite statutes as well as case law.
Knowledge by Dog-owner of Dog’s Propensity to Bite
Most states’ dog-bite laws fall into two primary categories, both of which relate to a dog owner’s knowledge regarding a dog’s propensity to bite.
- Prior knowledge
If a dog-owner knew or should have known that a dog might bite, certain jurisdictions will hold the owner liable for injuries suffered by a child or adult who has been bitten by the dog. Though prior dog-bite law often allowed a dog “one free bite,” a dog-owner may now be held liable even if the dog has not previously bitten anyone, as long as the owner had reason to suspect that the dog might bite and failed to exercise ordinary care to prevent such an attack from occurring.
This is a negligence standard of liability requiring proof by a preponderance of the evidence that the owner knew or reasonably should have known that the dog was likely to bite (giving rise to a duty of reasonable care), that the owner failed to exercise ordinary care to prevent the dog from biting, that the plaintiff suffered injury as a result of the bite, and that the plaintiff sustained legal damages as a consequence of the injury.
- Strict liability
Some states hold dog owners liable for injuries suffered by victims of dog-bites even when the owner could not have done anything to prevent the incident. A showing of the owner’s negligence, in other words, is not required under this legal theory.
Generally, if a child did not do anything to provoke a dog’s attack and the child was bitten while in an area in which he or she was allowed to or given permission to be, the owner will be held liable for damages sustained by the child as a result of the attack regardless of any actions or inactions on the part of the owner that contributed to the attack.
Liability on the part of a dog owner may be avoided under some states’ statutes if the dog-bite occurred while a child was knowingly trespassing on the owner’s property. If, however, the trespass was not willful or knowing, the owner may still be held responsible.
If your child has suffered injuries from a pit-bull attack or other dog-bite incident, contact child dog-bite lawyer Jeffrey Killino at 877-875-2927 for assistance with your legal options.