When a dog bites a person, it can cause severe damage. Even adults can suffer disfiguring injuries and wounds that lead to serious medical complications. Children are small and therefore easier for an animal to injure because of their stature.
When a dog attacks a child, emergency medical care is often necessary. Even if a child’s life isn’t in danger, they may require stitches and prescription medication to help them avoid infection. If the bite is in a visible area, they may need special care to prevent the development of disfiguring scars. What would be negligible on an adult can lead to permanent visible scars for a growing child.
If the bite is severe or if they lose a lot of blood, the child may need extensive treatment. They may also need mental health support to recover emotionally. You could have tens of thousands of dollars in medical expenses. Who’s going to pay those bills after a dog attack?
The animal’s owner is likely liable
California has a strict liability statute for dog owners. In all but a very few situations, the animal’s owner is responsible for any damage or injuries the animal causes. The exceptions to the strict liability rule include when someone intentionally provokes the animal or broke the law, such as by trespassing immediately before the attack.
If the animal’s owner is a friend or family member, making a claim may seem like a bad idea. You may worry about how they would pay, but homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies will typically cover animal attacks, provided that the insurance company knew the animal lived there.
Knowing your options after a dog bite incident leaves your child injured will help you take the right steps as their parent and advocate.