Dog bites can be excruciatingly painful with long-lasting consequences compared to many other injuries. Besides the different effects, the damage itself can be exceptionally unpleasant. With children, the implications are even worse.
As such, it helps to seek immediate medical attention and specialized treatment while also looking for legal remedies as you may be having a valid claim. But while dog-bite rules may be straightforward in almost every U.S. state, it’s never easy to get everything right, especially if you’re going through the experience for the first time. An experienced dog bite attorney from Morris Bart legal services will offer expert guidance to ensure you get everything right.
Steps You Should Take If a Dog Has Hurt Your Child
The steps after the accident will determine how your child’s recovery will go and whether or not you’ll recover adequate compensation. Understandably, cases vary, and plaintiffs use different approaches to seeking compensation for their dog bite claims. However, several best practices remain key.
Follow these steps if a dog has attacked your child:
Seek Immediate Medical Attention or Call 911
There’s a significant risk of infection or rabies following a dog bite, and this is something you can’t afford to ignore. Even if the injuries your child has sustained appear minor, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention right away.
Identify the Dog Owner
Find out the person in charge of the dog when the attack occurred. You’ll want to request a rabies vaccine certificate to avoid subjecting your child to painful, costly shots. Furthermore, obtaining the owner’s details will be vital for any future legal proceedings.
Reach Out to Animal Control
This agency is tasked with apprehending violent animals and filing a report after an incident. Contacting Animal Control is necessary if the dog seems to be on its own during the attack.
Gather More Details
Additional vital information may include animal control documentation, police reports, or witness contact details. You also need to keep all the letters from involved insurance providers.
Be sure to document the violent dog as well as your child’s injuries. This should include pictures taken after the initial attack and others at every stage of recovery.
Journal the Injuries, Recovery, and Your Overall Health
Dog bite claims and lawsuits may take years to resolve. So ensure you keep track of the struggles and difficulties the young one may experience during the weeks following the attack. After they’ve recovered, you can reduce it to at least a weekly log until the case resolves.
Speak with a Reputable Dog Bite Attorney
Navigating the legal system and getting the deserved compensation can be complex to anyone unfamiliar with the process. Experienced Morris Bart attorneys will see your dog bite claim to the end while prioritizing your child’s best interests. They’ll also help you receive adequate compensation for healthcare costs and emotional trauma.
Maintain Good Records
You may think that something is minor, yet it could be the tipping point of your claim. Thus, you must keep all the documentation relevant to your case for proper case presentation.
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Do You Have a Valid Case?
A good case must comprise the following key elements:
- Liability on the defendant’s part
- Insurance coverage
- Bodily harm deserving significant compensation
The primary issue is whether the laws in your jurisdiction make someone legally liable for the incident. If a strict liability dog bite statute governs your state, someone must be held accountable. But if there’s no such rule, your city or county could have a strict liability ordinance, which also makes someone legally liable.
But if there’s no ordinance or strict liability statute in your location, you must prove the following to make someone liable:
- The dog previously harmed another victim or acted like it intended to, and the person in charge of the dog knew about the risk.
- A third party (like a property owner) portrayed negligence which led to the incident.
- A third party violated relevant animal control laws, which caused the dog-bite incident.
What Are the Legal Remedies If a Dog Hurts Your Child?
Dog bites cause different injuries, and these can be especially significant for kids. Often these bodily harms require extensive treatment to recover, possibly including physical therapy or plastic surgery. There’s also the risk of a rabies infection, which would require painful and costly shots to prevent transmission.
All these culminate in additional expenses and immense pain. But while money may not restore your injured child fully, reimbursement will help you cover all the costs related to the incidents. The legal remedy for dog-bite claims is compensation comprising compensatory and punitive damages.
This reimbursement category covers all the financial costs related to the bite incident and sustained injuries. Economic or special damages encompass direct out-of-pocket expenses related to the dog bite incident. They’re usually well-documented with receipts, hence easy to compute.
- Hospital bills
- Cost of surgery and therapy
- Additional life adjustments, like purchasing a wheelchair or crutches
- Cost of medications
General or non-economic damages are meant to cover the harm inflicted on the child. The damages have no dollar value, but professional insights help arrive at their actual value. They include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Emotional trauma
These aren’t common in personal injury claims involving dog bites, but the court may award them to punish the party responsible for the bite incident. This occurs if they were malicious in their actions.
The Innocent Child Rule
Comparative negligence laws in different states require that a dog bite victim who’s partially to blame for their injuries be deducted an amount proportional to their percentage of fault in the compensation. For instance, if the court finds that you’re 20% at fault, you’ll receive 80% of the entire reimbursement.
However, a different statute known as the innocent child rule may apply to dog-bite victims below five years. The law considers them “faultless” if attacked or bitten by a dog, and comparative negligence laws won’t affect their compensation limits.
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Let an Experienced Dog Bite Attorney Help Your Case
The above tips will help you perform the necessary steps after your child has been bitten or attacked by a dog. But the process can be complex if you don’t have an experienced attorney to guide you.
Fortunately, this shouldn’t worry you. The knowledgeable attorneys at Morris Bart’s law firm are ready to stand with you and your child, protect both of your rights, and fight for the best outcome from your injury claim. Schedule your free dog bite claim evaluation today.
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