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Dog Bites Back

When a Dog Bites a Child

| October 29, 2021

While many dog bites occur without serious complications to the victim, there are still thousands of cases where the person bit requires medical attention or hospitalization. Children especially are at a higher risk of being seriously injured by a dog bite than adults. Below includes a detailed look into the facts surrounding dog bites and answers some common questions.

Why Dog Bites Involving Children Are Unique 

Because of their size and weight, children are particularly vulnerable when it comes to dog attacks and often suffer severe injuries. 

  • Due to their size, children’s faces are often on the same level as the dog’s mouth, making it easy for them to suffer facial injuries. Some of these injuries can be permanently disfiguring. 
  • Children are not as strong as adults and cannot physically restrain or fight off the dog. 
  • Children have smaller limbs and hands, making it easier for dogs to get their mouths around their arms or legs. As a result, they tend to suffer significantly more severe injuries to their arms, legs, and hands. 

When dogs bite children, they often suffer puncture wounds, torn ligaments and tendons, eye injuries, nerve damage, and broken bones. Your child may require extensive medical treatment, which can be quite expensive, even when most of the cost is covered by your health insurance.  

In addition, children often lack the emotional maturity to process the trauma of a dog attack. As a result, a dog attack can result in severe emotional and psychological trauma for a child, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Healing these wounds can be especially difficult, sometimes requiring years of counseling and therapy.  

Statistics & Facts About Dog Bites

While dog bite statistics can be challenging to obtain, the CDC estimates that approximately 800,000 dog bites each year require medical attention. Of those, the CDC estimates that 334,000 will require medical treatment at a hospital. This means that there are 2,400 dog attacks across the country every day, with almost 1,000 people requiring medical treatment. 

What States Have the Most Dog Bites?

State-by-state statistics are difficult to come by, but below are the top 5 states for dog-bite related insurance claims: 

  1. California
  2. Florida
  3. Texas
  4. New York
  5. Illinois

Looking more closely at a specific state, the most recent statistics from the Maryland Department of Health reported 7,849 dog bites across Maryland in 2019. Maryland ranked 23rd in the number of dog bite-related claims in the United States. Keep in mind these are only the dog bites that resulted in an insurance claim, but thousands more go unreported.

Children & Dog Bite Statistics

Children are especially at risk of serious injury when they are involved in a dog attack. Statistics indicate the following: 

  • 51 percent of dog bite victims are children
  • 26 percent of children bitten by a dog will require medical treatment as opposed to only 12 percent of adults
  • Children from ages 5 to 9 are at the greatest risk of being attacked by a dog
  • Infants and children up to 2 years old are most likely to die as a result of a dog attack

Which Dog Breeds Are Responsible For The Most Dog Bites?

There is a great deal of controversy surrounding dog-specific legislation, where owners of specific breeds feel that they are being unfairly singled out. However, the statistics support such legislation: 

  • Pitbulls are the most likely breed to bite and account for 65% of all dog attack fatalities.
  • After pitbulls and rottweilers, German shepherds, American bulldogs, mastiffs, and huskies are the other breeds most likely to be involved in dog attack fatalities. 

On the other end of the spectrum, the dog breeds least likely to cause serious injuries from their bite are dalmatian, pointer, Great Dane, Pekingese, and spitz.

Dog Bite FAQs

At what age is it safe for a child to play with a dog? 

There is no definite age when it is safe for your child to play with a dog. It is always best to supervise your child when a dog is present. Before letting your child play with a dog, you should know more about the dog and its behavior. You should also learn about dogs’ “signaling” behavior to know when an attack may be imminent. Lastly, it is important to realize that most dog attacks happen in the owner’s home. The second most common location is within a friend or family member’s home.

If a dog of a neighbor or friend bites my child, are they required to pay for my medical bills?

If the dog was running loose and you can prove your claim, then yes, the dog owner will be required to pay your medical bills. This applies even if the dog belongs to a friend or neighbor. That said, the case will likely be far more complicated if the dog bite occurred while you and your child were on your friend’s or neighbor’s property. 

What should I do if my child is bitten by a dog at a dog park?

Most importantly, you should get the dog owner’s name and contact information. You should also get the name and contact information of anyone who witnessed your child being bitten by the dog. Then you should seek immediate medical attention. Once your child has been treated, you should contact your homeowner’s insurance company to discuss the claim process. 

What should I do if my dog bites another person or child?

You should first gain control of your dog so that it cannot bite anyone else. Once the dog is secured, offer assistance to the other person – they may need help getting the medical attention they need. Before they leave, write down your name, phone number, email address, and homeowner’s insurance information. Lastly, you should obtain their name and contact information to get in touch with them should you need to do so later. 

Should I Hire a Lawyer If My Child is Attacked by an Animal?

If your child has been bitten by a dog and suffered a severe injury, you may be entitled to compensation for their medical bills and other losses. Maryland law is fairly complicated when it comes to pursuing a claim for dog bite injuries. In cases where the dog was running loose, the law applies a strict liability standard – the owner can be held liable for your child’s injuries simply by virtue of the fact that they were bitten. If the dog was not loose, the law applies a negligence standard. However, several factors could complicate your case: 

  • Your child was trespassing on the dog owner’s property
  • Your child was teasing or provoking the dog
  • The dog had never attacked anyone before, and the owner was unaware of its aggressive nature
  • The owner warned your child to stay away from the dog

The outcome of your claim depends on the facts and how the law applies to your case. A Maryland dog bite lawyer will know how the law applies and be able to identify the important facts to support your claim. 

Contact Us if Your Child Has Been Injured by a Dog

Thomas E. Pyles has been helping injured families get the compensation they need to rebuild their lives for over 30 years. With offices in Laurel, Waldorf, and Leonardtown, dog bite lawyer Thomas E. Pyle can help you get the compensation you need for your child to make a full recovery. If your child has suffered a dog bite injury, contact us today at 301-705-5006 or visit one of our three locations.