When a dog attacks your child, it’s natural to become paralyzed with fear and shock. As distressing as the experience may be for both you and your child, you are not alone. Dog bites are unfortunately a common occurrence nationwide, and the population most at risk to be victimized is children ages 5 to 9 years old.
Beyond the serious injuries and physical pain often sustained, dog attacks on a child can yield long-term suffering in the form of emotional trauma. In the event of a dog attack, the best way to protect your child physically, emotionally, and legally is to take immediate action.
Take Action When a Dog Attacks Your Child
- Defend and protect your child. When a dog attack unfolds, position yourself between the dog and your child, and throw a purse, jacket, backpack or another object at the dog to distract him and entice him to take the bait. If available, use a bike or something of similar size to obstruct the dog’s path and block him from perpetuating the attack. Additionally, instruct your child to lay face down in a ball and be still, using closed fists to cover the face, ears, and neck area.
- Get to safety. Once you are able to thwart or escape the attack, usher your child to a safe area such as a house or other area inaccessible to the dog. Immediately assess the nature and condition of any injuries that your child sustained in the attack.
- Seek medical help. Don’t dismiss the potential severity of your child’s wounds. It’s imperative that your child receives timely medical attention by trained professionals. Be sure that they administer a rabies test and document all treatment performed.
- Call the authorities. A dog attack is a serious offense that requires the involvement of law enforcement. Call the authorities immediately to report the incident and provide all pertinent information. In Arizona alone, there are strict dog bite laws in place that are heavily enforced. Contacting police is a critical step in having such laws applied. It’s also prudent to call animal control to report the attack and have them apprehend the dog if it is still on the loose.
- Call your lawyer. Once your child has been treated, and the proper parties have been notified about the attack, it’s time to contact an experienced dog bite attorney. Physical wounds may heal, but the aftermath of a dog attack on a child can be debilitating. From emotional trauma to staggering medical bills, you will need the expertise of a seasoned attorney to help you build a case and receive the compensation your child deserves. Failure to contact a lawyer within the legally prescribed time frame can jeopardize your chances of earning a settlement altogether.
Arizona’s Dog Bite Laws
In Arizona, stringent laws are heavily enforced and generally tend to favor the victim of a dog attack, especially when injuries result. In most cases, it is the dog owner who is held liable for the attack. Additionally, any party responsible for the dog at the time of the attack can be held legally responsible as well. In terms of setting, the dog owner is generally held accountable for the attack regardless of whether it took place on public or private property, assuming that the victim’s presence is legal. The only instance in which a dog owner would be absolved of liability would be if it’s proven that the victim provoked the dog and incited an attack which otherwise would not have taken place.
Unlike other states that show dog owners mercy by refraining from holding them liable if their dogs are “first-time offenders,” Arizona takes a much stricter stance on one-bite rule. In Arizona, regardless of a dog’s history or level of negligence involved in a dog attack resulting in injury, the owner is deemed legally responsible for the incident. Again, the only time a dog owner is exempt from this rule is when the attack results from victim provocation.
When a dog attacks your child, serious consequences may result. Beyond medical concerns, your child may experience emotional trauma that lasts years or longer. If your child has been attacked by a dog and you want an experienced attorney on your side, contact me today to discuss your case.