While children love dogs, they often don’t know how to discern a safe dog from a violent one. When a child carelessly runs up to pet a dog, the animal may bite just because it feels threatened. Parents often assume that their beloved pet is safe and trust it to be gentle with their child. Unfortunately, all dogs act instinctively when startled, especially when an enthusiastic child is involved. In other cases, a negligent owner may put the public in danger by carelessly walking or releasing a dangerous dog. Regardless, the best way to prevent a tragic injury or fatality is to educate your child about best safety practices. They need to understand that even non-aggressive dogs can become violent when they feel stressed or threatened.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Texas ranked second for the most dog-bite related fatalities in 2016. Nearly 50% of these fatalities were children under the age of 10. While most dog bites aren’t fatal, children are very small and don’t know how to react when being attacked. Consequently, 2/3 of all attacked children receive catastrophic bites on the face and neck.
To help you protect your child from suffering a severe injury, the Austin dog bite attorney at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC has compiled a list of helpful tips:
- Wait to get a dog until your child is old enough to understand boundaries
- Speak to a veterinarian about which dog breeds are best for children
- If you already have a dog, be sure to keep a watchful eye on any interactions between your child and your pet
- Train your dog to obey commands
- Socialize your dog so that it’s used to children and other animals
- Teach your children to avoid unfamiliar dogs
- Don’t allow your child to play with dogs without your supervision
- Teach your child to never disturb a dog that is eating, sleeping, or caring for puppies
- Instruct your child to always ask an owner’s permission before petting a dog
- If the child feels threatened by a dog, they must stay calm, avoid eye contact, and back away slowly
Understanding the “One Bite Rule”
In Texas, a dog owner may not be liable for a bite injury due to the “one bite rule.” A pet owner can only be held responsible for your child’s injuries if the dog has displayed aggressive attack behaviors in the past. If you’re planning to file a claim, it’s important that you request copies of your child’s medical records and take pictures of the wound. These are vital pieces of evidence that your attorney can use in court. If successful, you may be awarded economical and noneconomical damages.
You may be able to file a personal injury claim under the following conditions:
- The defendant owned or is in control of the dog
- The dog has previously bitten a person
- The dog has acted aggressively in the past
- The defendant is aware of the dog’s history
- The defendant was negligent in controlling their dog or preventing the incident from occurring
- This negligence led to your child’s injuries
Take Legal Action Today
Being attacked by a dog can be an incredibly traumatic experience for a child. Many victims often suffer lasting physical, emotional, and psychological scars. If your child has been injured by the negligent actions of a dog owner, contact the Austin dog bite attorney at The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC. We can help you file a personal injury claim and pursue damages that can facilitate your child’s recovery.
We’re available 24/7. Contact The Stewart Law Firm, PLLC at (512) 271-5112 to schedule a consultation.