Any Dog Can Bite a Child, Including the Child’s Beloved Pet

Few would disagree that dogs are the most lovable of pets. Dog ownership has been shown to improve people’s health, to provide companionship when none other may exist, to afford protection from intruders, and even to save lives. Dogs offer children additional benefits, as well, from sheer pleasure to important learning experiences regarding responsibility and consideration for creatures that depend on our love and care.

When a dog has been a beloved household member for some period of time, however, parents sometimes forget, or fail to realize, that even the most gentle of dogs may bite. Pets that have never bitten before, that have never exhibited any prior sign of aggression, may bite a child. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), children are far more frequently bitten by dogs than are adults. This is true, in part, because a child’s lack of experience and knowledge regarding dogs may lead the child to engage in behavior that causes a dog to bite.

Children may not only be bitten by their own dogs, but also by dogs encountered outside the home. Children who have become used to the docile behavior of a family pet, for example, may attempt to interact with a neighborhood dog in the same manner the child regularly plays with the family dog, only to find that the neighbor’s dog reacts with a bite instead of a kiss. In some cases, dogs have escaped from yards or other enclosures and have attacked children without any apparent provocation.

In addition to being more vulnerable to dog bites, children are also more likely to receive severe injuries from being bitten. On December 27, 2014, for example, a 10-year-old boy sustained serious injuries upon being bitten by two neighborhood Pit Bulls, which escaped from the neighbor’s yard through a hole in the neighbor’s fence. The child suffered a broken arm, a broken nose, disfiguring injuries to his mouth, and the loss of part of one ear. According to reports, he will require years of reconstructive surgery to repair the damage to his face. One of the dogs is reported to have made an earlier attack on a man, prompting the city to deem the dog dangerous and require the owner to obtain insurance on the dog. Following the attack on the 10-year-old boy, the dog’s owner was cited for violation of a city ordinance pertaining to dangerous dogs.

Though Pit Bulls and Rottweilers have been reported to be the dogs most likely to cause fatal injuries to those they bite, German Shepherds and Chow Chows are considered to be the breeds most inclined to attack. Any type of dog may bite a child and cause the child’s injury or death, however, and most of these attacks are preventable through the exercise of responsibility by dog owners and education regarding the very natural dangers presented by even the meekest of dogs. When a child is bitten by a dog other than a family pet, the dog owner may be held legally responsible, depending on relevant circumstances and applicable state law, for injuries or death suffered by the child as a result. Child-injury attorney Jeff Killino has extensive experience with child-accident and injury cases, including those arising out of children’s injuries and deaths caused by dog bites or attacks. If your child has been injured or has died as a result of a dog bite or attack, attorney Killino and his nationally respected team of child-injury lawyers and paralegals can help you obtain justice from the responsible parties.

When Can a Dog Owner Be Held Liable for a Child’s Dog-bite Injury or Death?

Dog-owner liability for children’s injuries and deaths caused by dog bites or attacks varies somewhat from state to state. Some states have strict-liability dog-bite laws that impose liability on dog owners for dog-bite injuries even when their dogs have never bitten anyone before, while other states require a showing of negligence on the part of a dog owner before the owner may be found liable.

Strict Liability for Children’s Dog-bite Injuries and Deaths

Most states have enacted statutes that hold dog owners strictly liable (i.e., without proof of negligence or other fault) for injuries and deaths caused by bites or other attacks by owners’ dogs. The imposition of strict liability (rather than liability for negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior) means that a dog owner may be held legally responsible for injuries or deaths caused by the owner’s dog even if the dog had never attacked or bitten anyone before and had never exhibited any signs of aggression. In some states, however, owners will not be held strictly liable if the person bitten or attacked is shown to have provoked or teased the dog into biting or to have frightened the dog in some manner.

Liability for Children’s Dog-bites Injuries or Deaths Caused by Owner Negligence

States in which strict-liability statutes have not been enacted generally follow what is commonly known as a “one-bite” rule regarding dog bites and attacks. Under these laws, an owner may only be held liable for dog-bite injuries and deaths if the owner is found to have been negligent in allowing the attack to occur. The failure of the owner of the dogs that attacked the 10-year-old boy to repair the fence through which the dogs escaped and the owner’s knowledge that one of the dogs had bitten before may be found to constitute negligence resulting in the owner’s liability under these laws.

Obtain Legal Assistance from Child-Injury Attorney Jeff Killino

Child-injury attorney Jeff Killino has been recognized across the country for his pursuit of justice on behalf of children who have been injured or killed through medical malpractice, other negligence, or defective and dangerous toys and other products. If your child has been injured or killed as a result of a dog bite or attack, attorney Killino can help you fight for the compensation to which you are entitled.