Some kids love dogs and some are scared of them. As a lawyer I have seen many dog bite cases involving kids. Helping a child avoid a bite incident is the best thing, but animal owners can be held responsible for their negligence in how they keep and control a dog when it causes injury to a person,. An owner owes a duty of ordinary care to maintain their dogs within the standards of the law. Idaho law (Code section 25-2805(2)) defines a vicious animal as “[a]ny animal which bites, inflicts injury, assaults or otherwise attacks a human being.” The law requires any vicious animal to be contained in an enclosure. The Idaho Supreme Court has long rejected the old common law rule that provided a vicious animal could attack without consequence to an owner. The Idaho Supreme Court has long ruled there is a “familiar but fallacious saying in negligence law that every dog gets one free bite before its owner can be held to be negligent for failing to control the dog.” However, in Idaho, such a right “is refused to a dog’s owner. Thus, an owner can be held liable for the acts of the dog even if its the first time the dog has bitten someone. Nonetheless, making sure your child minimizes the chance of being injured is a way to avoid having a lawyer involved in your life.
- Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
- Do not run from a dog and scream.
- Remain motionless (e.g., “be still like a tree”) when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
- If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball and lie still (e.g., “be still like a log”).
- Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
- Immediately report stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
- Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
- Do not disturb a dog who is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Do not pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
- If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.
If it is not prevented, a dog bite or dog attack can be a terrifying, traumatic event. A number each year result in serious and permanent injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control 4.5 million people a year are bitten by dogs and nearly a million need medical attention. Many of them are bitten on the face. While certain breeds of dog are far more likely to attack and bite humans, even when unprovoked, any dog can bite. If you or a loved one have been attacked and bitten by a dog, the first step is to locate the dog owner and find out if the animal has a current rabies vaccine. Then, an investigation should be made into whether the dog owner or handler was negligent. Was the attack provoked? Was the dog unrestrained and off its owners property? Did the dog have a history of attacking humans or other animals? What steps did the owner or handler take to prevent an attack?
If the dog’s owner is identified, and he or she is shown to have been negligent, dog bite victims may recover for damges such as:
- Medical treatment such as first aid, emergency care, surgery, hospitalization and ongoing care.
- Future medical treatment for scar reduction.
- Psychological counseling to overcome the emotional trauma of the attack.
- Loss of earnings from work
- physical pain and suffering,
- and any disability or disfigurement resulting from the attack.
Things to do in case of a dog bite:
- Try to identify the dog and its owner. In the rare event that the dog has rabies, it’s important to receive the appropriate vaccines.
- Seek medical attention. Dog bites can involve puncture wounds from fangs. They can easily become infected. Often the doctor will refrain from closing the wound to make sure any infection gets out. Infection can occur even with scrapes and abrasions. An infected wound can result in a worse scar, and may cause serious complications. If you delay treatment, it may not be possible to suture your wounds, which can increase the severity of scarring and complicate your recovery.
- Report the incident to the police and the animal control officer, and request a copy of the police report for your records.
- Don’t argue with the dog owner. Many dog owners simply won’t believe that their dog would bite.
- Don’t sign papers or give recorded statements to the dog owner’s insurance company. The same things that apply to recorded statements after an auto crash apply to statements after a dog bite. It is possible that the dog owner, property owner, or their insurance company will try to get you to make a statement, in writing or on tape, about what happened. Politely decline. (After all, are they offering to let you take a recorded statement from the dog owner?) Remember that the goal of the owner’s insurance company is to avoid liability for your injuries. Dont be fooled into thinking the dog owners insurance company has your interests at heart.
- Don’t agree to a settlement, or sign any settlement papers, without first consulting with an experienced, competent attorney who focuses on injury
If you have questions, call us for a free consultation. We have a combined 40 years experience and help people all over Idaho.
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