Few things in life are scarier than witnessing your child being attacked by a dog. Around 4.5 million people are attacked by dogs each year, with small children being especially vulnerable. While your first concern should be getting the dog away from your child and seeking immediate medical attention, you also need to decide on a course of action for dealing with the aftermath of the attack. Here are four things to do as soon as possible after your child is attacked by a dog:
Seek Immediate Medical Treatment
It's wise to bring your child to the emergency room so they can be examined and treated right away, even if their wounds do not initially seem that serious. Some dog attacks lead to deep puncture wounds that do not look bad at first glance but actually do serious damage to tendons and muscles under the surface. Dog bites can also transfer bacteria and disease, so it's important to have them professionally cleaned and tended to immediately.
Make sure to get copies of your receipts and any documentation from the hospital visit, and to take photos of the wounds, as these will be important in a potential lawsuit or insurance claim.
Get Information from the Dog's Owner
Once you get a chance, you will need to talk to the dog's owner and gather basic information from them, including their full name, contact information, and address, their dog's vet records and rabies certificate, and their homeowner's insurance information if possible. Ideally, you will do this immediately, which may mean having one parent go with the child to the hospital while the other parent (or a neighbor or friend) stays behind to gather information.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
One of the most important things you can do after a dog attack is request a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney. After your child is attacked, you may have expensive medical bills, and you may need to miss a good deal of work to help your child. In addition, your child may need counseling if they experience emotional trauma from the attack. In some cases, the dog owner's homeowner's insurance will pay for these expenses, but it's best to have an attorney navigate this process to ensure you receive all the compensation you are entitled to.
In other cases, the best course of action may be to sue the dog owner, in which case you will need an experienced attorney on your side. When you meet your attorney, they will help determine which is the best option for your unique case, taking into account local and state laws, whether or not anyone witnessed the attack, and if the dog owner was negligent in any way.
Help Your Child Process Their Trauma
Being attacked by a dog can be deeply scary and traumatic for anyone, but especially for a young child, who until the attack probably thought of dogs as nothing more than furry friends. It's a great idea to seek out the help of a child psychologist, who can help your child process the dog attack in healthy ways.
By talking openly about the attack and their fear with a trained professional, your child will be able to make sense of what happened, heal emotionally, and in most cases avoid long-term fear or phobia of dogs. If you witnessed the attack and find yourself panicked or having nightmares afterward, you may want to talk to someone yourself as well.
A child being attacked by a dog is always a scary life event, but by following these tips you can take control of the situation, protect your child's best interests, and avoid financial loss.