Accidents & Personal Injury Blog

Dog Bites and Children: An Overview

Approximately half of all children under the age of 12 years old have been bitten by a dog. The reasons for these attacks vary, and most dog bites are inflicted by a dog that the child is familiar with, such as his or her own pet. In addition, nearly 80% of dog attack fatality victims are children. Below is an overview of some of the legal issues surrounding this issue in New York.

Common Dog Attack Injuries and Medical Procedures

Common dog attack-related injuries include:

  • Puncture wounds
  • Scratches
  • Torn tissue and skin
  • Neck and head injuries
  • Fractured bones
  • Dangerous infections including rabies
  • Permanent scarring
  • Emotional trauma

Child dog attack victims frequently require medical attention to treat their injuries. Treatment often consists of costly procedures such as:

  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Skin grafts
  • Physical therapy
  • Psychiatric care

Establishing Child Dog Bite Liability in New York

In order to receive compensation for dog bite-related expenses in New York, the negligence of the owner or dangerous propensities of the dog responsible for the attack must be proven in a civil action.

  • Negligence – Under a negligence liability theory, an injured party must prove to the court that the owner of the dog responsible for the attack failed to take reasonable steps to restrain or control it. Strict liability, however, can be imposed regardless of the owner’s actions if certain conditions are met.
  • Strict Liability for Child Dog Bites – In New York, a dog owner is strictly liable for all damages resulting from injuries to a child caused by a dangerous dog. Strict liability requires the owner of a dangerous that is considered dangerous to pay an injured child’s medical bills regardless of any precautions taken to control or restrain the dog. A dog is considered dangerous if it can be shown that he dog had a tendency to attack or bite people and the owner knew or should have known about the dog’s dangerous nature. There are a number of ways to demonstrate that a dog owner knew of his or her animal’s dangerous tendencies. These include presenting the court with evidence that:
  • The owner kept the dog tied up, chained, or fenced in;
  • The dog previously attacked a person;
  • The dog was known to growl, lunge at, or bare its teeth at people;
  • The dog was utilized as a guard dog by the owner;
  • The owner placed “beware of dog” signs on the property where the animal resided; or
  • The owner previously told other people about the dog’s dangerous nature.

If your child has been the victim of a dog attack, please consider discussing your situation with an experienced personal injury attorney. At O’Connell and Aronowitz, our attorneys take pride in guiding our clients through each step of the civil litigation process. Please contact us for a free initial consultation at (518) 462-5601.

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