Can I Sue a Pet Owner If My Child Is Bitten By Their Dog?
The statistics surrounding dog bite cases are alarming, especially since most victims are reported to be children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), close to 5 million people are bitten by dogs every year! And more disconcerting is the fact that more than 50% of those people are actually children.
So as a parent, it is stressful when your child is badly wounded by another person’s dog, and often times, this situation will have you asking yourself several questions. One of the most common questions among parents of dog bite victims has to do with lawsuits.
Many parents want to know if they “can” and if they “should” sue a pet owner whose dog has injured their child. If you find yourself in a similar circumstance asking yourself the same question, continue reading for some advice regarding personal injury dog bite lawsuits and minors.
Dog Bite Accidents and Injuries
One of the first steps to take if you are considering filing a claim against a pet owner for a dog bite accident is to contact a personal injury lawyer. They generally offer free initial consultations so there is no out-of-pocket obligation to simply discuss your accident. This gives you a chance to present your case to a knowledgeable attorney who can offer advice on whether or not you should move forward with a claim.
It is important to first seek medical treatment from a valid source, such as a doctor’s office or clinic, so that the injuries are treated and also recorded. Once you have received professional medical care, file a police report to have the accident documented as well. These records are used as proof and evidence, and can be used later on in the case that your claim goes to court.
Dog bite laws vary from state to state, but in most cases, you must be able to prove that the pet owner was liable to be awarded compensation for your child’s damages and losses. In states like California and Florida, dog owners are “strictly liable”, meaning the owner is 100% liable at all times even if they do not demonstrate any degree of negligence.
Other states, like Texas and Oregon, utilize a “one bite” rule that says pet owners are not liable for the first time their dog bites another person, so long as they could not have known or didn’t know the dog was likely to bite or attack. But they do not get another pass if their dog bites again.
If your dog is known to bite, attach a yellow ribbon to its collar so strangers know to approach with caution.
Avoid dogs that are giving off signs of anxiety or irritability, such as folded-back ears, teeth showing, growling, fidgeting, and tenseness.
Do not let children chase dogs, even if the dog does not have a history of aggression. This is a common trigger for first-time biters.
Contact a personal injury lawyer immediately after a dog bite accident to learn your rights to compensation assistance.