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Child injuries from dog bites are unfortunately common, with the majority of animal attacks occurring in the family home or neighborhood. Washington, D.C. dog bite attorney Roger Gelb understands the importance of setting forth a strong case for compensation for the family facing the devastating consequences of a dog bite injury. Thousands of clients throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. have recovered compensation after retaining Mr. Gelb, who over the years has secured settlements and verdicts totaling over one hundred million dollars. Throughout the course of representing you or your loved one during this difficult period, Mr. Gelb will remain accessible, as he personally handles all cases at Gelb & Gelb.Holding a Dog Owner Liable for Child Injuries from a Dog Bite
When a dog owner violates their duty of care and their animal bites a child, they can be held legally responsible. Even if the owner did not know their dog had the propensity to bite, it is their duty to avoid causing foreseeable harm to others. While state laws vary concerning the legal responsibilities of dog owners, in many cases, a negligence claim is appropriate following a dog bite.
To hold a dog owner liable following an attack, the parent of an injured child must show that there was negligence. In the majority of cases, the claims of a child are brought by a legal guardian such as a parent, or a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. A successful negligence claim requires proof that the defendant breached their duty of care, and this breach directly caused injuries and harm.
Actions that would be considered reasonable in the context of fulfilling a duty of care related to dog ownership may depend on the tendencies of the particular animal. Ensuring that the dog is properly trained when interacting with others, and taking measures to socialize the dog are examples of potentially fulfilling an expected duty of care. If a dog owner is on notice that their dog has a tendency to bite, then they may be expected to take extra precautions. Additionally, laws and ordinances regarding leashes must be adhered to, as the expectation is that the dog will be restrained. Failing to fulfill any of these duties may constitute a breach of a dog owner’s duty of care. If such a breach leads to injuries, the dog owner may be found negligent and held legally responsible.
Negligence per se may be an appropriate legal claim when a dog owner has violated a law specifically intended to protect children from dog bites. For example, the owner of an off-leash dog that bites a child in a “leashed dogs only” zone beside a community or child care center may be deemed negligent per se. This is because their violation of the ordinance led to the injury of a member of the group intended to be protected by the leash law.Possible Defenses
As a defense to allegations of negligence, some dog owners may argue that a child was trespassing at the time of the attack. Generally, a trespasser may not recover damages if they were not lawfully on the defendant’s premises. However, neighborhood children and young children may be exempt from this defense because they cannot be expected to understand or follow rules concerning trespassing.
Additionally, the doctrine of contributory negligence may apply to limit liability in certain situations. In some personal injury cases, this doctrine holds that a plaintiff partly responsible for their harm may be barred from recovering compensation. This argument may apply, for example, if the dog was allegedly provoked before attacking. However, in the case of a young child injured from a dog bite, this defense may not be appropriate. Some states hold that young children are not capable of provoking a dog, as they are not responsible for their actions. A seasoned dog bite lawyer can help you address arguments of this nature should they arise in your case.Recover Damages for Costs Associated with Child Injuries from Dog Bites
Recovering from a dog attack requires both time and money. The lingering physical and emotional problems that can arise from an animal bite can be devastating for child victims. After establishing legal fault for a dog bite, legal guardians will then set forth a claim for compensatory damages. These damages include immediate and long term costs, such as future medical care necessary to treat the impact from the dog bite.
Scarring from a dog bite can subject children to teasing and abuse, and can lead to emotional suffering. Mental health counseling costs may be recovered in a personal injury claim. In some cases, punitive damages may be assessed.Washington, D.C. Attorney Advocating for Dog Bite Victims
The trauma inflicted by a dog bite can scar child victims both psychologically and physically. An experienced dog bite injury lawyer such as Roger Gelb, together with the team at Gelb & Gelb, can help you assert your right to the monetary compensation you may be entitled to. Our office helps people throughout MD, VA, and Washington D.C. To better understand the specifics of your case, call (202) 331-7227 or contact us online.