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What Happens If My Child Is Bitten By A Dog in Washington?

An experienced Vancouver dog bite attorney, ready to fight for you

Dog bites are serious no matter who the victim is, but when it’s a child, the damage is magnified.

Due to their small size and lack of experience, children are more likely than adults to be bitten and less able to withstand the damage of a dog attack. Children make up more than half of all dog-bite victims. Those ages 5-9 have the highest risk of being bitten, according to the nonprofit Kids N K9s.

Dog bites frequently cause injuries to tissues, muscle, skin and bones including:

  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations
  • Infection
  • Severed nerves
  • Disfigurement
  • Incapacitation
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Especially when the victim is a child, these injuries can have long-term consequences. In Washington, there are specific laws meant to protect people from dog bites and attacks, but children still wind up victims of bad dog bites far too often. The state applies a “strict liability” rule to dog bites, which means the victim does not have to prove negligence on the part of the owner, handler, or other responsible party to recover.

Recovering from a serious dog bite often requires a hospital stay. Some injuries never fully heal and cause a lifelong pain. Other injuries may not seem too bad now but could become worse in some circumstances.

We pursue full compensation for dog bite injuries

The Scott Law Firm PLLC, of Vancouver, knows that damage done in a dog attack can last a lifetime – and it’s important that your child receives the compensation they need to regain and maintain their health. The long-term cost of a dog bite may include everything from reconstructive surgery to mental health treatment. We can pursue full compensation.

Our dog bite law firm serves all of Clark County and the surrounding area. We work on contingency, which means there are no out of pocket expenses for you. We don’t get paid unless you win. If you or your child was injured in a dog bite or attack, contact The Scott Law Firm for a free case consultation.

Common dog bite factors

Each year there are about 4.5 million dog bite incidents in the U.S. About 800,000 of those require a trip to the hospital. There is not a huge field of dog-bite research, but studies have found some common factors:

  • Boys are more likely to be bitten than girls.
  • Children with dogs at home are more likely to take risks when interacting with unfamiliar dogs.
  • Bites happen more frequently in rural areas.

When children are bitten by dogs, it’s usually in a familiar setting with people they know. With about 80% of all dog bites taking place in a home, about 77% of biting dogs belong to the victim’s family or a friend.

What to do if your child is attacked by a dog

If your child was attacked by a dog:

  • Get the child immediate medical attention. This is important for their health as well as the success of your claim.
  • Take photos of the injuries.
  • Report the incident to police and/or animal control.
  • When your kid is stable and secure, contact a dog bite attorney to protect your family and rights.

After a dog attack, owners are often willing to go to great lengths to avoid consequences. An attorney can stand up for your rights and help you navigate a difficult legal situation.

When you know the owner

Many people feel awkward about filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit against a family member or friend to get compensation for medical bills and other losses, but that’s typically what must be done.

It sounds harsher than it really is.

When you file a claim over a dog bite, you are seeking money from the dog owner’s insurance policy – not their own savings. If the owner was keeping an officially “dangerous” dog, they are required by law to carry liability insurance for dog bites. Your claim may also be convered under their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy. In most cases, we are able to deal with these claims by working directly with the insurance company, with minimal involvement on the part of the dog owner.

Washington’s strict liability laws

Washington’s dog bite laws, for the most part, hold owners liable for any serious injuries or deaths caused by their animals.

Our state uses the principle of “strict liability” to determine the outcome of dog-bite claims. This means that an owner can be held liable even if the dog has never bitten anyone. Some states have a “one-bite” rule, meaning that a dog basically gets one “free bite” before legal action can be taken. Washington does not.

The owner can try to argue trespassing, negligence or provocation on the part of the victim, but when the victim is a child, the law provides additional protection. Under Washington law, a child under the age of 6 cannot be negligent. Children 6 and older can be held negligent under some circumstances, but only if they act with less care than a “reasonably careful child of the same age, intelligence, maturity, training, and experience.” The right attorney will stand up for your child’s legal rights.

Experience matters

Children who suffer dog bites can sustain serious mental and physical injuries that may last a lifetime. They didn’t deserve to be hurt, but they do deserve to heal.

The Scott Law Firm has the experience and passion to get your case done right. We will investigate the incident, collect strong evidence, and negotiate hard on your behalf. If the insurance company or owner won’t make you a substantial offer, we prepare to get you the justice and money you deserve in court.

If your child was injured or died in a dog attack, call, email, or chat online with a member of The Scott Law Firm’s legal staff to schedule a free case evaluation. We can explain how the law applies to your specific situation, estimate compensation, and help you weigh your legal options. Don’t delay. Contact us today.

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