When an unfriendly dog runs up and bites your child, the incident is traumatic for everyone involved. The unfortunate fact is that dogs are more likely to attack children than adults, and dog bites are more likely to inflict serious injury when the victim is a child. Surprisingly, the dog in question is usually familiar to the child, and kids younger than five are most likely to suffer severe face, head, and neck injuries.
What to Do During a Dog Attack
The goal is to avoid an incident by supervising children closely when any dog is near. Here’s what to do if a dog attacks:
- Avoid yelling or making sudden movements, which could make the dog more aggressive.
- Do not make eye contact with the dog because the animal might take this as a challenge.
- Do not forcefully pull your child away mid-attack, or serious injury could occur.
- Separate the dog from the child using a blanket, handbag, umbrella, or other visual distraction.
- Pick up the child if possible.
- Tell your child to curl up in your arms to get as far away from the dog as possible.
- Throw something over the dog’s face, such as an article of clothing.
- Only fight back as a last resort.
- Do not turn away from the dog until the attack is over.
What to Do After a Dog Attack
Once the dog is gone and your child is safe, follow these steps:
- Comfort your child.
- Seek medical attention for your child’s injuries immediately.
- Collect the contact information of any eyewitnesses.
- Take pictures of the injuries as soon as possible and document the wounds as they heal.
- Find out who owns the dog or was responsible for watching the animal when the attack occurred. Get contact information and ask for proof of rabies vaccination.
- Report the attack to Animal Control.
- File a police report.
- Call an experienced personal injury lawyer in Virginia to ask about filing a claim and seeking compensation.
Virginia Dog Bite Laws
The “one bite” rule applies in Virginia. This means pet owners are often only liable for injuries once they know their dog is aggressive, presumably because the animal has already bitten someone else.
At the same time, Virginia also follows the “negligence per se” rule. This states that pet owners must control and restrain their dogs, whether or not the animal has shown aggressive behavior. This means dog bite victims may succeed in recovering compensation if they can demonstrate a failure to comply with local leash laws or other attempts to exercise reasonable care.
If a dog has bitten your child, the next step is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Virginia. At Childers and Associates, we consider it our duty to represent innocent victims and help them receive compensation. We handle numerous personal injury cases, including dog bites. To request your free case review, please call our Manassas, VA, office at (703) 330-6300.