While dogs are known to be great companions and can be lifelong friends to their owners, they can also pose a very real risk, especially to children. In fact, according to a recent study, children under two make up over a quarter of all fatal dog bite victims. In terms of non-fatal dog bite injuries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 40 percent of all dog bite victims are children. Pediatric dog bite injuries can have a tremendous effect, not only on a child but also on their family. At Briskman Briskman & Greenberg, our Chicago dog bite lawyers represent children and their families in personal injury cases against the owners of aggressive and vicious dogs. We have more than 35 years of experience connecting our clients with the compensation they need and deserve through our unique form of aggressive yet compassionate advocacy.
Why Are Pediatric Dog Bites So Common?
Historically, about half of all dog bite victims were children. In recent years, the percentage of child victims has gone down; however, as a group, children are attacked at a disproportionate rate. There are a few reasons why dogs tend to target children.
Size – Because children are smaller than adults, they are at a dog’s eye level. While this may seem as though dogs would be less threatened by children, that isn’t necessarily the case. First, dogs are hyperaware of a child’s actions because they can observe everything a child is doing. Second, dogs are predators by nature and have survived for centuries by hunting for their food. Thus, a dog may exhibit predatory behavior towards very small children.
Erratic Behavior – The unpredictable actions of small children can make a dog nervous, which may cause a dog to attack. This is especially the case for young children as they are meeting their milestones, such as rolling over, crawling or starting to walk. Dogs may not be used to a child moving, and when they do, a dog may get frightened or assume the child is a threat to its safety.
Playful Behavior – Children love dogs, even those dogs that they should probably avoid. As children get older, there is a natural desire for them to want to engage with a dog. In most cases, this is just playful behavior that poses no real threat to the dog. However, what a young child considers play may come off as threatening to a dog.
Of course, sometimes, there is no apparent reason for a dog bite.
Common Dog Bite Injuries Among Children
Any dog bite injury is serious; however, when the target of a dog’s attack is a young child, the results can be devastating. Sadly, as a group, children suffer the most serious dog bite injuries, many of which affect the face. In fact, according to one study, more than two-thirds of all pediatric dog bite cases involve injuries to the head and neck. Some of the most common pediatric dog bite injuries include:
- Avulsions (tearing of the eye tissue);
- Broken bones and fractures;
- Corneal Abrasions (scratches to the eye);
- Fractures of the orbital bones;
- Infections; and
- Intraocular hemorrhage (bleeding of the eyeball due to physical trauma);
- Loss of an eye;
- Perforation or dislocation of the lens;
- Puncture wounds
- Punctured or ruptured eyeballs; and
Of course, children also frequently suffer severe emotional trauma after being attacked by a dog, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
Most Dangerous Breeds of Dog
Any breed of dog is capable of attacking a child. However, multiple studies have concluded that pit bulls are the most likely to attack a child. According to a study conducted in 1999, pit bulls were responsible for 25 percent of all pediatric dog bite injuries. Other dangerous breeds include:
- Alaskan Malamutes,
- American Staffordshire Terriers,
- Bulldogs and Bullmastiffs,
- Chow Chows,
- Doberman Pinschers,
- German shepherds,
- Mixed-breed animals, and
Of course, the most dangerous breed of dog, in reality, is the one that attacks your child. Parents who have children that have suffered severe injuries as a result of a dog attack can pursue a claim against the animal’s owner to recover compensation for their child’s injuries.
Recovering Financial Compensation After a Dog Attacks Your Child
Illinois is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bite law. This means that a victim does not need to prove that a dog’s owner was negligent leading up to an attack. However, strict liability only applies if the following three conditions are met:
1) The child did not provoke the animal;
2) The child was “peaceably conducting” themselves; and
3) The child was in a place they are lawfully allowed to be.
Children are unlikely to be trespassing at the time of an attack. However, the biggest hurdle in pediatric dog bite cases is the child’s conduct leading up to the attack. For example, an animal owner or their insurance company may claim that a child who was playing with a dog “provoked” the animal. Of course, an experienced Chicago dog bite lawyer can help families show that a child’s innocent behavior did not rise to the level of provocation.
Even if a child is found to have provoked a dog, that does not necessarily relieve the animal’s owner of liability. Instead, this simply means that strict liability does not apply, and the court will rely on traditional principles of negligence. In other words, if a child provoked a dog, the owner can still be liable for the child’s injuries if they were negligent in securing the dog.
Reach Out to the Chicago Dog Bite Lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg to Speak with an Attorney About Your Case Today
If you or your child was recently attacked by a dog and suffered serious injuries, reach out to the Chicago pediatric dog bite lawyers at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg for immediate assistance. Our lawyers handle all types of dog bite lawsuits on behalf of injured children and their families. We have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies to secure favorable settlement offers, avoiding the need for a formal trial. However, as experienced litigators, we are prepared to take your case to court in the event the insurance company is unwilling to extend a fair settlement offer. To learn more, and to schedule a free case evaluation, call Briskman Briskman & Greenberg at 877-595-4878 today. You can also reach us through our online contact form.