Dog attacks suffered by children have the potential to be severe and even life-threatening, especially for those incidents involving big dogs. Child survivors of a dog attack might face lifelong consequences, such as scarring and disfigurement, as well as emotional trauma.
If your child was attacked by a dog, you may be unsure how to proceed. However, a lawyer who is well-versed with civil lawsuits stemming from child dog bite injuries in Michigan can help.
Child Dog Bite Statistics
Statistics show that almost 5 million people in the United States will be bitten by dogs this year alone. The primary victims of these attacks are children with most serious injuries occurring between the ages of 5 and 9 years old. For children under 10-years-old, 77% of all injuries are to the face.
Almost 50% of all fatal dog attacks involve the death of a child. The age group with the second-highest amount of fatalities are 2-year-old children. Almost 90% of fatal dog bite attacks happen when the 2-year-old child was left unsupervised with a dog or the child went to location of the dog. Approximately 75% of children bitten by a dog occur at the home of the child or at the residence of a family member or friend.
The face is the most frequent target of dog attacks, accounting for 77% of all injuries, according to the Humane Society of the United States. In addition, approximately 77% of attacks to children under 10 years old reportedly result in facial injuries.
Overwhelming, children 10 years and younger are responsible for nearly half of all pit bull fatalities from 1982-2018. The bar chart below shows the distribution of victim’s ages from pit bull attacks.
How Kids Get Bitten by Dogs
Dog bite injuries sustained by children are frequent and often influenced by a number of factors in Michigan. These include the breed-related behavior of certain dogs, as well as—more importantly—the temperament and behavior of the dog owners, the child, and the child’s parents.
In particular, children tend to underestimate the danger arising from dogs due simply to their lack of experiences. Unfortunately, while most dogs do not attack or bite out of malice, the ensuing damages could be severe. When a child is unsupervised at the time of the attack, the injuries are likely to be more serious because an adult is not present to intervene to prevent serious injury and harm. Many attacks are at the house of a neighbor, friend, or relative.
Who is Liable for a Dog Bite?
According to Michigan Compiled Laws §287.351, the dog’s owner or handler is usually liable for any injuries their animal causes. The only exceptions to this law are if the dog was provoked into biting someone, if a victim was not on public property, or if the child was not permitted on private property at the time of a bite.
Therefore, state law requires that a plaintiff in a dog bite case prove that their injuries were from a canine’s attack and that none of the above exceptions apply. For child injury claims stemming from a dog bite, a parent and their skillful Michigan lawyer must demonstrate these elements on the child’s behalf.
What is the Provocation Defense?
Lawyers and insurance company adjusters for the dog owner often claim that the dog was “provoked” into biting the child. What exactly constitutes provocation varies from case to case and depends on the facts of the attack. For example, if a child pulls the dog’s tail it may constitute provocation. However, simply attempting to hug or pet a dog may not be provocation.
In addition, the response of the dog must be in proportion to the act of the child. For example, if a child gently pulls the ear of the dog and the dog then viciously attacks the child, the court can rule that the dog’s violent attack was out of proportion to any alleged provocation.
Parents of child bitten by a dog should consult with an experienced Michigan dog bite lawyer to determine if there child has a case. The Buckfire Law Firm attorneys have won large settlements on cases when the lawyer from the dog owner attempts to dismiss the case by claiming the dog was provoked to attack the child. We even recently won a case in the Michigan Court of Appeals after a judge dismissed the lawsuit based upon the provocation defense, but the appellate court reinstated because of the incorrect ruling.
Types of Child Injuries from Dog Bites
Due to their smaller size, developing bodies, and immature immune systems, children are often more susceptible to sustaining severe dog bite injuries and complications in Michigan after an attack. These include crushing injuries, avulsions, nerve damage, and infections.
Scars and Disfigurements
Many children are bitten on the head and face in a dog attack. This can leave serious and permanent scars that will last a lifetime. Many bites are so serious that plastic surgery may be required if the skin does not heal on its own.
Unfortunately, if children are below a certain age, a surgeon may refuse to perform a surgery. Under these circumstances, an injured child may have to endure humiliation from scarring throughout their adolescence.
Large dogs are more likely to cause crushing injuries due to the tremendous strength of their teeth and jaws. Crushing injuries can break bones and cause damage to soft tissues and muscles.
When a dog rips or tears tissue, an avulsion injury occurs. These injuries are serious and sometimes require reconstructive surgery, which could lead to a lifetime of scarring and other medical complications.
If a dog bite extends into the nerves of the tissues, temporary or permanent nerve damage may occur. Loss of function or a permanent loss of ability to use that part of the body may follow. In extreme cases, the injured person may have permanent paralysis.
Data reported by the CDC reveals that nearly 20 percent of all dog bites become infected with bacteria. Infections in a bite wound can delay healing, increase scarring, and require additional medical care. These complications include:
- Capnocytophaga bacteria
How much are dog bite settlements for a child?
Child dog bite settlements are often substantial. This is because the bites are often to the face or arms and leave permanent disfiguring scars. Many times, a child will be hospitalized and require plastic surgery after a dog attack.
Michigan law provides for money damages to child victims of dog attacks. Compensation in includes payment for pain and suffering, scarring, medical bills, and psychological harm caused to the child. Many children suffer permanent and disfiguring scars, especially to the face, from a dog attack.
Settlements often include payouts for future plastic surgery to help minimize the appearance of the scar when the child reaches the teenage years.
Our Michigan law firm has settled significant dog bite claims for children. This includes a settlement for $425,000 for an attack on a child in Port Huron, a child dog bite case for $375,000 in metro Detroit, and another settlement for $250,000 in Kalamazoo. We have won many other significant settlement payouts for children throughout Michigan.
Contact a Michigan Child Dog Bite Lawyer
If your child suffered injuries after being attacked by a dog, seeking medical attention should always be the first priority. However, depending on the circumstances of an attack, you might also be able to file a civil dog bite lawsuit against a negligent pet owner.
By retaining a Michigan dog bite lawyer specializing in cases for children, you can rest assured that a legal professional is by your side.
Call us today for a free case consultation to start your case.
There are no legal fees whatsoever unless your child wins a settlement.
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