- A child’s small size and trusting nature make them more vulnerable to serious dog attacks.
- If a dog owner is found to be negligent, they and their insurance company can be held liable for paying for your child’s injuries.
- Compensation for a dog attack should including all costs, including past and future medical bills for treatments, therapies, and medications, plus damages for pain and suffering caused by the traumatic event.
- Hiring an experienced lawyer can make the claims process more effective and help ensure you receive fair and full compensation for your child’s injuries.
Because of their size and trusting nature, children are often the victims of serious dog bites and attacks. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), dog bites are a more significant health problem for children than measles, mumps, and whooping cough combined. They are also more common than injuries from biking, playgrounds, mopeds, skateboards, or ATVs.
Because dogs are animals that don’t know any better, it is the dog owner’s responsibility to protect children around their pet. Unfortunately, accidents still happen — and when they do, you should be able to obtain compensation for your child’s injuries.
But dealing with a dog owner and their insurance company is not always easy — and it’s likely the last thing you want to deal with while caring for an injured child.
Here’s what you should know about pursuing an injury claim if your child was attacked or bitten by a dog.
Property Insurance Companies Try to Avoid Paying for Dog Bites
When a child is bitten by a dog, it isn’t often that the owner will contact their insurance company to report the incident. Instead, the child’s family is usually left to do everything on their own — from reporting the accident to the appropriate local authorities to contacting the homeowner’s insurance carrier.
If the dog’s owner won’t provide their insurance information, then it makes matters even more complicated. For parents or guardians, dealing with a child’s dog bite injury claim can be unnecessarily difficult, time-consuming, and stressful.
Property insurance companies also consistently try to down-play the serious nature of injuries and will often resist paying a fair and full settlement by any means. These companies will attempt to pay minimal compensation to protect their bottom lines.
Most families find that using a personal injury lawyer to handle their child’s claim is easier, more effective, and reduces unnecessary pressure. Having a lawyer who knows how to work through an accident claim will make the process smoother and ensure the insurance company takes the accident seriously.
When a Dog Owner Might Be Considered Negligent for a Dog Bite
Responsible dog owners take steps to make sure their animals are kept safely away from unsuspecting children.
- Dogs need to be leashed or gated away from children.
- It should be difficult for a child to access or open the gate where a dog is kept.
- It should be challenging or impossible for dogs to break out of their enclosure.
- There should be dog warning signs that are viewable to children.
- Owners should not trust their leashed dogs close to children, even if they don’t have a history of attacking
When a dog owner does not take the proper steps to ensure the safety of others, the owner can usually be held liable for injuries that result from a dog bite or attack.
How to Collect Compensation for an Injured Child
When a child is bitten by a dog, their recovery is the most important aspect. But medical expenses pile up quickly, leaving parents or guardians to foot very costly bills.
Property insurance companies should compensate families for these expenses, but they will work overtime to keep victims from collecting all that is rightfully owed.
To collect fair and full compensation for dog bite injuries, many families are forced to file a legal claim against the homeowner’s property insurance policy. However, the process can be challenging without the help of a personal injury attorney. Parents or guardians may not be familiar with local laws and ordinances, evidence that can help build a case, and what damages should receive compensation.
In addition to medical expenses and other costs incurred, the long-term traumatic and emotional consequences felt by children after a dog bite should also be considered in a claim. Pain and suffering are very real damages that insurance companies try to ignore and avoid paying for at all costs. A personal injury advocate will know how to include them in your compensation.
Evidence to Collect and Use in a Dog Attack Legal Claim Involving a Child
Having solid evidence that demonstrates the dog owner was negligent strengthens your legal claim and improves your chances of being fully compensated for your damages.
Here is the evidence that can help in a child’s dog bite injury case:
- Photographs – Photos before and after medical treatment help show the severity of injuries. Also, preserve photographic evidence of where the accident occurred. If the dog bite took place on the dog owner’s premises, capture images that show where the dog was kept, where he escaped, and whether or not there were warning signs.
- Receipts – Keep all bills and receipts for your child’s medical treatments, prescription drugs for pain and antibiotics, and rehab or therapy. Cost for bandaging materials, antiseptic ointments, and other incidentals should also be included.
- Medical records – Gather all medical reports about the prognosis, treatments, and therapy that may be required in the future. For example, if there is nerve damage, treatments for pain and mobility issues may go on for the victim’s lifetime. It’s important to have proof that a condition will be a permanent disability or disfigurement, so it may be properly accounted for in the claim.
- Local ordinances: It is essential to obtain a certified copy of the applicable leash laws from local authorities.
- Animal control reports: Contact your local animal control office to find out if this particular animal has been previously reported for aggressive behavior. If so, request the details of those incidents.
- Witness testimony: If anyone witnessed the attack, obtain their contact information. Also, find out if witnesses or other neighbors have observed prior problems or attacks by the dog.
A Lawyer Can Give You a Better Chance of Recovering More
It can be challenging to determine and compile all the damages and their costs for your child’s dog bite claim. However, neglecting one factor, like pain and suffering, can mean much less compensation than you deserve. The insurance company is unlikely to voluntarily include additional claims out of the goodness of their hearts. Assigning every loss a monetary value will help you obtain a full and fair settlement for your child’s injuries.
Because personal injury lawyers have experience dealing with claims and insurance companies, they are unlikely to miss any damages to which you’re legally entitled. A complete claims package prepared by an experienced lawyer will give you a much better chance of collecting for everything you’ve lost.