Dog bite experiences can be traumatic for everyone involved — especially if the person on the receiving end of the bite is a child. In many instances, when a dog bites a child, the dog will oftentimes not be a complete stranger. That could be your own dog, a neighbor’s dog, or the dog of an extended family member. This is, of course, the ideal scenario since you’d know or would be able to easily find out the dog’s health history. But in the case of an unknown animal, you’ll also have to be concerned about rabies.
Dog bites are emotionally and physically devastating injuries — especially for a kid who might not completely grasp the experience. And while a dog bite can be one of those seemingly one-in-a-million occurrences that don’t happen to many people, they’re actually quite common.
According to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, in the United States, about 2,400 dog attacks occur each day. It is estimated that 100 dog attacks happen each hour and every 36 seconds. Approximately 800,000 dog bites require the individual to seek immediate medical attention each year. 334,000 of these incidents were treated in a hospital. 50 percent of dog bite victims are children.
Per the CDC, dog bites pose as a greater health issue for children compared to mumps, whooping cough, and measles. These injuries also occur more often than bike accidents, ATVs, and playground injuries. The most common demographic that falls victim to a dog bite are boys ages 5 to 9.
It must be noted that if you or your child was bitten by a dog, you should seek medical attention and consult with your doctor on treatment plans. Legal representation should also be considered if you plan on pursuing a personal injury claim against the party at-fault for your injuries.
At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our qualified dog bite attorneys have over 60 years of collective legal experience in handling personal injury cases. We have won more than 5,000 cases and recovered over $1 billion in settlements for our clients. Due to our achievements, we have been ranked as one of the top personal injury law firms in California.
Does My Child Need a Tetanus Shot After a Dog Bite?
As already mentioned, dog bites happen every day. If your child is not up-to-date with their tetanus shot and the dog’s health history is unknown to you, you should take your child to see a doctor to get a tetanus shot if the bite broke the child’s skin.
Today, we have newer and faster rabies tests, such as the LN34 developed by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that can detect the disease early to determine whether or not the individual needs rabies treatment. Thankfully, getting injections in your stomach for rabies is a thing of the past.
However, rabies is fatal if not treated early. Children exposed to rabid animals could avoid the weeks-long series of shots if they get tested immediately following a dog bite incident.
Rabies in Children
Rabies is a fatal infection that attacks the nervous system once the person or animal is bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. Once the rabies enters the body, it heads towards the central nervous system. When it reaches the brain, it will go to the nerves and grow in different organs. Animals that are known to carry rabies are:
Symptoms may start 5 days to more than a year after the initial date of the attack. The average time frame of a rabies infection is 2 months.
Symptoms for stage 1 rabies include:
For stage 2 rabies, the symptoms include:
Symptoms for rabies may appear similar to other health conditions, which is why it is important to seek medical attention following a dog bite. Vaccines are administered immediately after contact in order to give the person or animal immunity to the virus. However, once symptoms start, the progression of the virus becomes unstoppable.
Why Does a Dog Bite?
If dogs could talk, we could very well just ask them why they bite. But since this is not a reality, we don’t exactly know why a dog bites a person. However, we do know that they can result from many different reasons. Sometimes, children do or say something that frightens or angers a dog. There are other instances when a dog may be upset or react to something that has nothing to do with the victim.
There are several actions a child should never do when near a dog. They must not:
Once a child learns how to act around a dog, chances of getting bit decrease significantly. If possible, the child should allow the dog to approach them and sniff their hand to identify them. As the dog starts to appear and feel more comfortable near the child, the dog will most likely allow the child to pet them.
The best way to prevent a child from being bitten is to educate them on how to recognize signs of dog aggression. It’s also important to teach them to always be gentle with dogs. If a dog is showing signs that they don’t want to play with your child, the child should learn to respect that.
What to Do After a Dog Bite
Other than getting a tetanus booster, there are other important procedures you must complete if your child is bitten by a dog. This includes:
According to a study called “Incidence of Dog Bite Injuries Treated in Emergency Departments,” dog bites are the second most common cause of emergency room visits for children. If your child was bitten on the face, hands, foot, or neck, you should get immediate medical attention to avoid infection from spreading. If you notice the bite turning red, swollen, or showing signs of pus after receiving help from a doctor, you will need to go back and get re-evaluated.
When a dog bites or attacks a kid, there is an immediate reaction of surprise and shock. Depending on the nature of the attack, the physical wounds can even be overshadowed by the trauma the child experiences.
The attack can create an entire set of injuries that are not so easily seen, especially in the immediate aftermath. These injuries are psychological and can be found in the way a child thinks, feels, and deals with other people.
When it comes to dog bites, California is a strict liability state. So as long as a dog bite occurred in a public place or lawfully on private property — including the dog owner’s property — the dog owner will be held liable for any injuries, physical or emotional. Dog bite victims in California are typically entitled to compensation for their losses, which can include:
In extreme cases when there is death involved, the surviving family members of anyone who was killed by a dog may be entitled to damages on the decedent’s behalf. Such a claim would be filed as a wrongful death case and would possibly entitle survivors to additional damages.
West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help
If you have sustained injuries as a result of a dog bite, our expert dog bite attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.