You may be a dog lover, but when it comes to children, you can never be too cautious with an animal. The reality is, more than half of dog bite victims are children under the age of 12. Dog bites lead to more visits to the emergency room for a child than any other activity, even more than broken bones. The increasing number of dog bites has caused a rise in personal injury claims and dog bite lawsuits.
Studies reveal that half of all dog bites to children happen at home or in the child’s own neighborhood. Most bites are on the head and neck area and often require stitches, painful rabies shots, and in very serious cases, plastic surgery.
Sadly, children will live with the physical and mental trauma from a dog bite for many years after the incident. They may suffer with facial scarring and be so emotionally scarred they require therapy. Some children may even suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
As a parent, it is your responsibility to see that your child is properly taken care of and compensated. However, dog attacks on children usually require the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer can work for you to negotiate a fair settlement with insurance companies, depose witnesses, and subpoena records. An attorney filing a lawsuit can sometimes bring a fast settlement and protect you and your child from unnecessary emotional stress.
What To Do If A Dog Bites Your Child
Ideally, you should try to prevent dog bites from happening, but if the unthinkable does happen, remember to follow these steps.
Even if your child’s injuries appear minor, it is still very important to seek medical attention right away. A dog bite or scratch can lead to a very serious infection, rabies, or other disease. This also serves as documentation for your case.
Identify the owner of the dog and their insurance company:
Since most attacks occur in the child’s own neighborhood, it should be easy to find out who owns the dog. Make sure the dog’s owner knows their dog attacked your child. Tell them that your child has sustained injuries that are serious enough for a trip to the emergency room. Ask the owner for the name, policy number, and the contact information for their homeowner’s insurance company.
Contact your local animal control:
It is important to let animal control know of the incident and file a complaint. This will ensure that the city takes appropriate action to put the animal in quarantine and prevent further attacks.
Get pictures or video of the scene of the attack. Get pictures of your child’s injuries, their clothes, blood on the ground, and even pictures of the dog. Your child’s bloodstained clothing is important evidence so don’t wash the clothing. Put the clothes in a plastic bag and label it with the date and time of the attack. If there were any witnesses, get their names and contact information for your lawyer.
Dog Bite Damages
The damages to a child after a dog bite can be devastating and last a lifetime. In addition to medical bills, physical pain and emotional trauma, the most important claim to account for is any disfigurement. Permanent scarring or disfigurement may affect the child’s self-confidence and even the ability to gain employment in the future. Additionally, there will likely be future medical bills for plastic surgery.
It is incredibly important to account for, and claim, all the potential damages on behalf of your child. In fact, your child is counting on you to act in his or her best interests.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Cases in Missouri
In dog bite lawsuits and other personal injury cases, State law governs how long you have to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your child’s injuries. If you do not file a suit within the set period of time, you will not be able to seek compensation for your child’s injuries.
According to Missouri law, the statute of limitations for filing a dog bite lawsuit is 5 years. However, for minors, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the minor’s 21st birthday. That makes it sound like you have plenty of time, but don’t delay. For example, each year you delay in finalizing your claim saves the insurance company money, and potentially costs your child years of compound interest ($300,000 in the year 2000, after inflation alone, is worth over $395,000 today).
Therefore, in order to properly preserve your child’s claim, and efficiently resolve it to preserve the maximum allowable compensation, contact a dog bite lawyer at soon as possible.
For more information about dog bite lawsuits or to schedule a free case evaluation,
call the Lieser Law Firm at 314-862-7805