Dog attacks suffered by children have the potential to be severe and even life-threatening, especially for those incidents involving big dogs. 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.

An  experienced  attorney at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. will explain your legal options, launch an investigation, and work to pursue a a compensation for your child.

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.

Pit bull fatality victim age distribution chart - Buckfire Law

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.

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.

Crushing Injuries

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.

Avulsion Injuries

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.

Nerve Damage

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:

  • Rabies
  • Capnocytophaga bacteria
  • Pasteurella
  • MRSA
  • Tetanus

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 in Port Huron, a  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 has 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 lawsuit against a negligent pet owner.

By retaining a dog bite lawyer specializing in cases for children, you could rest assured that a legal professional is by your side.

Call us today to start your case. 

There are no legal fees whatsoever unless your child wins a settlement.

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