A Dog Bit My Child—Do I Have a Case?

Thanks to the pandemic and various stay-at-home orders, millions of children have been home and in close proximity to millions of dogs, and dog bites have skyrocketed over the past year (see this infographic for some staggering numbers). Dog bites can be traumatic, even life threatening. If your child is the victim of a dog bite, do you have a legal case? That depends on several factors.

First things first

Should your child be bitten by a dog, take these steps immediately:

  • Make sure there are no others in danger from the dog.
  • Even if the injury seems minor, like a scrape that hasn’t broken skin, you should wash the injury with warm water and soap, and treat it with antibiotic ointment.
  • Seek immediate medical attention. The injury may be more serious than it seems, and dog bites are notorious for becoming infected. It’s also a good idea to have a medical report should you decide to move forward with a legal case.
  • Regardless of the severity of the bite, report it to your local animal control office. They’ll want to know if the dog has a history of biting others. Luckily, rabies has been nearly eradicated in the United States, particularly among pets, but better safe than sorry.
  • Report the bite to the police. It’s up to them to decide whether action should be taken, and it will also give you a police report should you end up needing it.
  • Many kids love dogs so a dog bite can be emotionally devastating. Keep a close eye on your child’s emotional state in case they warrant counseling.

Strict liability state

Ohio is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. In simple terms, that means if your child, or anyone for that matter, is bitten by a dog, that dog’s owner or guardian will by law be held liable for any injuries caused by the dog. As a victim, you are not required to prove negligence on the part of the dog owner—you just have to prove that the dog caused the injury. In Ohio, even if a BEWARE OF DOG sign was posted, the owner is still liable.

The dog breed doesn’t matter

Whether it’s a so-called “dangerous breed” like a pit bull, or a miniscule chihuahua, it doesn’t matter. Small dogs are often aggressive and bitey.  

Exceptions to dog bite liability

There are exceptions to the dog bite law. The dog’s owner is not liable if:

  • The victim was criminally trespassing. A child wandering into someone’s yard does not constitute trespassing.
  • The victim was tormenting or abusing the dog.

Should a dog owner be found liable, they may be responsible for:

  • Medical bills, including emergency care, ambulance costs, etc.
  • Mental pain and suffering, physical therapy, plastic surgery, psychological counseling—virtually anything that directly results from the dog bite.
  • Wrongful death, should that tragedy occur.

Statute of limitations

A statute of limitations is a law that imposes a time limit on a personal injury case. Each state is different and the rules can vary for minors. Be sure and contact a lawyer to see how a statute of limitations applies to your case.

If your child was involved in a dog biting incident, contact us. Our attorneys will fight to win you the compensation you deserve.

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You can expect to hear from Christine 1-2 days after submitting your inquiry.

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Pay nothing up front. No fee until your case is settled or tried to a jury.