The United States is home to more than 83 million pet dogs. While most of these canines are beloved members of the family who live up to their reputation as “man's best friend,” that isn't always the case. Some dogs are capable of inflicting serious injuries and sadly, when a dog does attack, young children are most at risk of becoming victims.
Dogs bite nearly five million people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and approximately 20 percent of these victims require medical treatment. Injuries include relatively minor lacerations, contusions, disfiguring facial trauma that requires reconstructive surgery—and even death.
If your child was bitten or attacked by a dangerous dog, you may be entitled to compensation from its owner. Here's what you should know when pursuing a dog bite insurance claim or lawsuit.
Dog Bites: Why Children Are Particularly at Risk
Of the nearly five million people bitten by dogs each year, the vast majority of victims who go on to require medical treatment are children between the ages of five and nine. There are numerous reasons why young children are especially vulnerable to devastating dog bite injuries:
- They may not yet understand how to pet a dog gently or interact with it appropriately.
- Their unpredictable behavior might frighten a dog.
- They may not recognize the subtle signs that a dog is becoming agitated and could bite.
- They might startle a dog by approaching while it's eating or sleeping.
- They could try to retrieve a snack or toy a dog has taken from them.
- They're not strong enough to fight off an attack.
Dangerous Dog Breeds and Traits
In 2019, the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology published a study conducted by researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center which explored the threat of dog bite injuries to children by dog breeds and traits. Hoping to provide families with information they need to choose a suitable dog for their households, researchers reviewed 15 years of dog-related facial trauma cases from Nationwide Children's Hospital and the University of Virginia Health System, and painstakingly combed through medical literature dating all the way back to the 1970s.
The study found that mixed breed dogs and pit bulls—including pit bull-type dogs such as American Pit Bull Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers (shown above), and Staffordshire Terriers—have the highest risk of biting, and cause the most damage per bite. Jack Russell Terriers, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers also ranked high on the list for both bite frequency and severity.
Additionally, because breed wasn't known in every case reviewed for the study, researchers worked to identify traits—such as size and weight, and head structure and shape—associated with a high risk of biting. They found that brachycephalic dogs with short heads and flat faces—such as bulldogs, pugs, and some pit bulls—weighing between 66 and 100 pounds present the greatest threat.
Seeking Compensation for Your Child's Injuries
If your child was injured by a dog that was carelessly supervised, free to roam, or known to be vicious, you may be entitled to economic and non-economic compensation for:
- Related medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Scarring or disfigurement
In many dog bite cases, the offending animal belongs to a friend, neighbor, or family member. Fortunately, pursuing the compensation your child deserves doesn't have to forever alter your relationship with the dog's owner. Dog bites are usually covered by the pet owner's homeowners' insurance policy.
Consult an Experienced Georgia Animal Attack Attorney About Your Case
If your child was injured by a dog, the knowledgeable personal injury attorneys with Van Sant Law can help you protect their rights, and fight for the full and fair compensation they need to recover. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free, initial consultation with a member of our legal team.