When Someone’s Dog Bites Your Child

Dog bites are often traumatic to victims and their family members, particularly when the bite involves a child. Dog bites can be more than just little nips; they sometimes cause serious injury and death. Beloved family dogs as well as unfamiliar and aggressive canines can cause serious harm, resulting in scarring, nerve damage, infection, and loss of motor control. There may also be psychological, mental and emotional repercussions. If your child sustains a dog bite-related injury, it’s critical that you seek medical attention immediately. Then, consider contacting a personal injury attorney who understands dog bite injuries and premises liability. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the situation, the owner of the dog may be liable for your family’s damages.

How Common Are Dog Bites?

Nearly 1,000 people are injured by dog bites each day, and nearly five million dog bites happen every year, according to the American Humane society. More than 50 percent of deaths caused by dog bites stem from unsupervised or unrestrained dogs on their owner’s property. The Centers for Disease Control reports that approximately 300,000 dog bite victims require care each year, and more than 82 percent of these patients are children. Young kids between 5 and 9 years of age incur more severe injuries, and infants are nearly 400 times more likely to die from a dog bite than any other age group.

Can the Owner Be Held Responsible?

Anyone who owns a pet is fully responsible for the behavior of the animal. Dog attacks and dog bites are preventable, so if a canine injures someone on its owner’s property, the victim could have grounds to pursue a premise liability case. In addition, a dog owner may also be held liable if the dog attack or bite occurs of their property. For instance, if a dog owner failed to secure his or her dog in the yard and the dog broke free and bit a child, the child’s parents could possibly have the right to file a dog bite lawsuit.

What Should Dog Owners Know About Bites and Premises Liability Law?

Premises liability law covers fatalities and injuries that occur on someone else’s property. For the death or injury to fall under premises liability, the prosecution must prove that the property owner was aware of the conditions or dangers that caused the incident. One of the most common types of premises liability accidents is slips and falls, but dog bites are included in this category as well. If proven guilty, dog owners may be required to compensate the victim for damages, including:

  • Loss of income
  • Mental pain and suffering
  • Physical therapy
  • Emergency care
  • Medical bills
  • Wrongful death

How Can a Parent Recover Damages for His or Her Child?

If you or someone you love is the parent of a child who is recovering from a dog bite, it is important to understand your rights. Depending on the state in which the incident occurred, there may or may not be a dog bite statute. For instance, some states follow the “one-bite rule,” which states that a victim can only legally seek compensation from a dog owner if the victim can prove that the dog had bitten someone in the past, or had the inclination to bite, and the owner was fully aware of the dog’s actions. Otherwise, the owner is not liable for compensation and damages unless the dog bites a second time.

However, a victim may still be entitled to file a lawsuit on the grounds of negligence. For example, if someone is walking his or her dog in a leash law area and removes the leash from the dog, resulting in a bite injury to a child, the owner may be responsible for damages. The victim must prove that the dog owner violated an ordinance such as, in this case, a community leash law. In these situations, the one-bite rule is superseded.

Contact Us Today

If your child has suffered a serious injury or passed away as the result of a dog bite, consider working with an experienced personal injury attorney. A legal team may be able to help you determine whether or not you have a valid premises liability or wrongful death claim against the dog owner, and your Dog Bite lawyer Des Moines IA relies on will work tirelessly to ensure you receive the compensation to which you are entitled. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, please call us today.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Johnston Martineau LLP for their insight into dog bite cases.