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What to Do If a Dog Bites a Child

What to Do If Your Child Is Bitten by a Dog

Kentucky has strict laws for holding dog owners responsible for bites and other injuries.

Did you know that Kentucky has some of the strictest dog bite laws in the country? In fact, a nationwide study showed that while only 6 percent of all U.S. fatal dog attacks resulted in meaningful criminal charges for the owners, half of those harsh charges happened in the state of Kentucky.

You might remember the 2018 story from Owensboro, where a man died and a woman was seriously injured after being attacked by a family pet’s pit bull. Nearby children tried to help, but luckily none were injured. The mother of one of the children shared her thoughts with the public on Facebook, saying, “If any one of our kids tried to intervene more than they did, we would be planning their funerals today.”

Children are frequent victims of dog attacks because they are small and vulnerable. Even friendly dogs sometimes target children for roughhousing that gets way too rough. More than 50 percent of dog bite victims are children, and 26 percent of those need emergency room treatment.

If a Dog Bites a Child, Seek Medical Care Immediately

What would you do if a dog bit your child? The first thing you should do is decide whether your child needs urgent medical care. Even if it just seems like a small puncture, it easily could get infected and become a bigger problem, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Medical experts say you should follow these steps immediately after a dog bite:

  1. Control the bleeding using a clean washcloth and gentle pressure.
  2. Clean the wound carefully with soap and water.
  3. Apply triple antibiotic ointment to the wound and keep it covered.
  4. For a more serious wound or if the dog was unknown to you, seek urgent medical care. In addition, face and neck wounds always should be examined by a doctor, as should wounds that won’t stop bleeding.
  5. As soon as possible, find out whether the dog has had its rabies shots and share any other information about the dog with your doctor. If the dog was unknown, contact the police or animal control.
  6. Ensure your child has had a tetanus shot and follow other advice from the doctor.

Contact Animal Control

Many Counties in Kentucky, including most in Central Kentucky, have Animal Control ordinances and officers to investigate and control dangerous animals. Use these services to 1) help collect key information and 2) possibly take a dangerous dog off the street.

Nelson County, for example, has an ordinance (Ordinance A-1-94) specifically providing for investigation, enforcement, and impoundment of dangerous animals. Let these services work for you.

A Smart Move: Seeking Compensation From the Dog’s Owner

In Kentucky, dog owners can be sued civilly by an injured child’s parent. That’s because our state assigns “strict liability” to dog owners, meaning the owner is liable for their dog even if the dog has never shown any aggression before. You don’t need to prove that the owner was negligent in any way because they’re held to strict liability.

And dog owners aren’t just responsible for bites. If your child is injured another way, like being knocked over or crushed, the dog owner is still liable.

Of course just because someone is at fault under the law doesn’t mean they’ll want to own up to their responsibility. A beloved family friend might refuse to pay your child’s medical bills, which easily could be $20,000 to $40,000.

Studies by the Mayo Clinic and National Institutes of Health have found that children’s dog bite wounds are highly likely to be facial wounds, which require extensive medical care. The Mayo Clinic found that child victims of dog bites commonly need all of the following types of care:

  • Pediatric surgery
  • Emergency/operating room
  • Imaging including CT scanning
  • Wound care/infection mitigation
  • Plastic surgery
  • Ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT)
  • Opthalmology
  • Psychological/psychosocial aftercare

What if the dog’s owner refuses to help you pay for all this if a dog bites a child? You shouldn’t have to drain your child’s college fund simply because someone else is refusing to take responsibility for their dog.

If you and your child ever find yourselves in this scary situation, seek urgent medical care and then contact a Kentucky dog bite lawyer. It’s the best way to protect your child from the long-lasting consequences of a sudden dog bite.

Trust McCoy & Sparks—Premier Personal Injury Attorneys in Nelson County

Recognized as Nelson County’s best law firm for over a decade and counting, McCoy & Sparks works to help people in trouble, representing thousands of clients in Central Kentucky with a focus on providing premium service and delivering superior results.

Regardless of the type of case, our goal is to develop a strategy that best serves your personal needs, then draw upon our courtroom skills to help you reach the best possible result. We start by getting to know you. Next we will explain all your options, giving you the pros and cons of each choice so that you will be empowered to make informed decisions. You owe us nothing unless we recover compensation for you.Make the right call to (844) 4KY-WINS for a risk-free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys today.