love our dogs in the United States - 63.4 million homes include at least one canine member. Unfortunately, dogs may end up biting someone, and most often, the victim is a child.

Dog bites are more common than you may realize. Here are recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • More than 4.5 million dog bites are reported yearly in the US
  • Dog bite-related injuries are highest for 5- to 9-year-olds.
  • Dog bite injuries are more severe for children than adults 
  • Nearly 20 percent of dog bites require medical attention

If your child is bitten by a dog, rescue your child from the attack, if possible. After you move to safely away from the animal, follow these steps:

  • Call 911. Even if your child’s injuries appear minor, it’s still important for your child to receive an immediate medical evaluation. A small scratch can lead to an infection, rabies, or other ailments. Keep a record of all visits with your doctors as well as corresponding notes, x-rays, etc. 

  • Gather evidence of the incident. Collecting evidence at the scene can have a huge impact on the success of your child’s dog bite injury claim. If you can, recover your child’s bloodied and tattered clothing. Don’t wash the clothing. Instead, place them in a bag and label them with the date and time of the attack. Take photos of your child’s injuries immediately after the attack as well as throughout the treatment and recovery period. Taking the time to collect and preserve evidence after a dog attack can make a difference in the amount of compensation your child may receive later.

  • Contact the dog’s owner. Victims of a dog bite are often hesitant to contact the dog’s owner, especially if it is a friend, family member, or neighbor. Regardless of your relationship (if any) with the dog owner, get the following information from the dog’s owner: name, address, and phone number as well as the name, policy number, and contact information for their homeowner’s insurance. Explain that your child sustained injuries serious enough to require medical attention. It’s also essential to obtain information about the dog’s history including vaccination records, previous aggressive behavior, and bite incidents (if applicable). This information is needed if you decide to file a personal injury claim.

  • Contact the local authorities/animal control. By filing a complaint with your local animal control department, you ensure that your municipality takes necessary measures to quarantine the animal and protect the public from further attacks. Additionally, the report verifies the date, time, and circumstances of the dog bite. This evidence is needed should you file a personal injury claim against the dog owner.

  • Contact an attorney. An attorney skilled in dog attack cases can help you and your child receive compensation for medical and rehab bills and pain and suffering. In most cases, an attorney can obtain three times the compensation versus attempting to resolve the issue on your own. Retaining an attorney also eases the legal burden so you can focus on helping your child recover from their injuries. 

Florida is a "strict liability" state when it comes to dog bites. A Florida dog owner may be held liable if his or her dog bites someone and causes injury, even if the owner had no prior knowledge or warning that the dog might bite. Section 767.04 specifically states that the dog owner is "liable for damages suffered by persons bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owners' knowledge of such viciousness."

According to Florida Statutes section 95.11, there is a four-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit after a dog bite injury. If you file after the deadline your case will likely be thrown out. Do your due diligence to file by the deadline to ensure your case is heard. 

When it’s all said and done, you want peace of mind when selecting a legal team. If you or a family member have been injured or attacked by a dog, time is of the essence. Contact Hudgins Law Firm at 800-950-5534 or complete our online contact form as soon as possible so we can discuss your rights.