What Happens if a Dog Bites a Child?

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What Happens if a Dog Bites a Child?

By Steven Jensen
March 4, 2022

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), an estimated 4.5 million dog bites are reported each year in the United States. Unfortunately, half of these victims are children. Children aged 5 to 9 years old had the highest injury rates. Dog bites can do a lot of damage to children because they are still growing and developing.

So what if a dog bites your child? Victims of dog bites can launch a dog bite claim against the dog’s owner. A dog owner can be strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets.

Dog Owners’ Strict Liability for Dog Bites


Dog owners may be held “strictly liable” for injuries caused by their animals. Most states uphold the strict liability standard. This law places liability upon the canine owner for the damages caused by their animal.

Strict liability entails the following:

1. Dogs do not have to have a history of being vicious.

2. A dog owner does not need to have known that their pet is a vicious or dangerous dog.

3. Victims are not required to demonstrate that the dog owner was negligent in caring for or monitoring the dog.

In brief, strict liability means that a dog owner is entirely accountable for the actions of his dogs, regardless of the precautions the owner takes to stop bites or dangerous behavior.

Speak to a dog bite lawyer to know what certain dog bite law is imposed in your area. Some states uphold the “one-bite rule.” This rule states that animal owners (e.g., a dog) will be held strictly liable for any injuries caused by their animals only if they knew or should have known that the animals are vicious or dangerous.

Exemption From Strict Liability

There are certain exceptions to the strict liability dog bite law. Dog owners may be able to evade responsibility for injuries caused by their dogs if:

  • The dog was provoked.
  • The attack occurred on private property where the victim did not have permission to be present. 

A Dog Bite Could Seriously Injure Children

Children and dogs do not always get along. As a result, roughly half of all dog bites involve children under the age of 11. Children injured are between the ages of 5 and 9. The following are the most common dog bite injuries reported in children:

  • Soft tissue damage
  • Head injury
  • Lacerations
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Wrongful death
  • Injuries to the child’s face and hands

Younger kids are at a greater risk of serious injury. According to statistics, children under the age of four are more likely to sustain head and neck injuries. These injuries are especially concerning since they can be fatal.

Some toddlers, unfortunately, do not survive dog bite attacks. Young children are more likely to die due to a dog bite. 48% of fatal dog bite victims are children under 1-year-old.

Why Do Dogs Bite Children?

Parents should teach their children how to behave around unfamiliar dogs. When a dog eats or sleeps, a kid should never approach it. This may trigger an adverse reaction from the canine.

Here are some examples of why dogs may target children:

  1. Children are more lively with dogs. This act may translate to the canine as being too harsh.
  2. Kids are more likely to be unaware of the risks of touching or approaching an unfamiliar dog.
  3. Since kids are much smaller than adults, they are more susceptible and straightforward targets.

Other Actions Kids Do That Irritate Dogs

  1. Riding dogs like a horse
  2. Grabbing its tails
  3. Stealing its toys
  4. Hitting
  5. Teasing or taunting dogs

Many dog bites happen in the children’s neighborhood, even when the child is familiar with the dog and has no reason to be afraid. According to some studies, certain dog breeds are more inclined to be hostile toward humans. However, stressful situations can cause dogs to show dangerous behaviors.

On the other hand, a dog may become violent due to its owner’s treatment. Certain owner behaviors can seem to increase the dog’s likelihood of attacking another human. These actions could include:

  • Insufficient supervision or monitoring of the dog
  • Failure to train the dog adequately
  • Failure to keep their dog on a leash when around people
  • Teaching their dog to be aggressive

Most importantly, parents must teach children how to interact correctly with dogs. Parents must also take appropriate actions to minimize a dog attack and know what to do if a canine bites a child.

Things You Should Do if Someone’s Dog Bites Your Child


Dog bite injuries can be fatal. Parents frequently ask me what they should do if a dog bites their child? Suppose a canine bites your child. In that case, you can do the steps below immediately:

  • Seek medical treatment or call 911

Your main priority should be to seek your child’s medical treatment as soon as possible. Dog bites are the second most common emergency reason for toddlers to visit the emergency room. There are risks associated with dog bites. Your child may develop one or more of the following conditions:

  1. Infection
  2. Disfigurement
  3. Emotional trauma

That is why, in some cases, quick medical attention can assist in reducing the risk of complications.

  • Determine the dog’s owner and obtain details about the dog

To prevent putting your child through painful and expensive shots, you should request proof of rabies vaccines from the start. It is critical to identify who owns the pup that bit your child. This is the individual you can turn to for answers to such vital questions. It can also help you determine who should be liable for the damages caused by the dog bite. When you find the owner, ask if an insurance company in place will cover your reimbursement for a dog bite.

  • Check to see if the dog has been vaccinated

When speaking with the dog owner, you should inquire whether the dog is up to date on vaccinations. This is especially true in the case of rabies. Whether the canine isn’t up to date on its vaccinations, it may need to be quarantined to see if it has rabies or another disease that could be passed on to the child.

  • Report the dog bite accident

You should notify the local animal control about the dog attack. This group must maintain an attack record, primarily if the dog attacks again, especially if the victim is a child.

  • Take a photo of your injuries

Make sure that you document your kid’s injuries starting from the time of the attack until it’s healed. You use this as evidence when filing for an injury claim.

  • Contact a dog bite lawyer

Personal injury law may be too complex for anyone unfamiliar with it. A dog bite attorney can help you with the legal process if you decide to pursue a dog bite injury claim. They will help you understand your legal rights. You should never speak with the owner’s insurance company representative. Let your personal injury lawyer talk to them instead. They may take advantage of you by offering you a low settlement offer.

Treating Your Child’s Dog Bite Injuries

If your child had minor injuries, you might be able to treat them at home. Per WebMD, you should take the following actions to offer basic first aid at home:

1. Maintain as much elevation as possible in the location of the dog bite.

2. To stop the bleeding, apply a clean towel over the wound.

3. You should use soap and water to clean the bite wound.

4. Place a sterile bandage over the dog bite wound.

5. Apply an antibiotic ointment (as prescribed) daily to keep the bite from becoming infected.

Unfortunately, treating a dog bite injury at home is not recommended. If you encounter the following situation, seek a physician right away:

  1. You don’t know the dog.
  2. The dog bite wound is quite deep.
  3. The wound begins to exhibit signs of infection.

Statute of Limitations in a Dog Bite Case

Like many other personal injury cases, a dog bite has a statute of limitations for filing a complaint in state court. Given the terrible nature of dangerous dogs, bringing a case is unlikely to be the first thing on your mind. More critical issues, such as healing and medical treatment, are crucial; legislators recognize this.

Each US state has its own “statute of limitations,” which establishes a deadline for filing claims in courts. A dog attack victim has one to four years to file a case. This time limit usually begins on the day of the injury. But because certain circumstances can affect how long the statute of limitations runs, it’s vital to know how the law applies in your case. It is always best to consult with a dog bite lawyer. Keep in mind that if you don’t file your case within the deadline, the court will probably dismiss it.

Contact a Dog Bite Lawyer Today if a Dog Bit Your Child


A dog attack can be a terrifying experience for a child. Following an animal attack, a child may develop a lifetime phobia of pets. Protect your child, family members, and someone from a dog bite.

It is essential to speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer right after the dog attack to know your legal rights. Hiring a dog injury attorney can help you guarantee that you receive fair compensation for all of the damages caused by the attack.

You can reach us at (801) 845-0440 or through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys.

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