When a young child is attacked and bitten by a neighbor's dog, parents may at first be too shocked and upset to understand the long-term effects the event may have. A dog attack occurs suddenly, often with no warning at all, which makes it even more terrifying. Even worse, dog bites happen far too frequently.
In fact, according to recent information from the UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, more than 800,000 dog bites occur each year in the United States, with approximately half of those involving a child. If your child has just been bitten by a dog in your neighborhood and you are unsure of your options, this information can help.
Child victims typically incur more facial damage
The child's shorter stature is often the reason for them incurring more serious injuries, including facial wounds. Adults, being much taller, are more apt to suffer dog bites on their arms or hands as they instinctively defend themselves against the attack.
Parents of a child who has been bitten by a dog should understand that the cost of care for the initial physical injury will likely not be the last. Instead, the child may require a series of corrective surgeries over a period of years to address scarring and other more serious damage incurred during the attack.
Emotional trauma may be extensive
Children who are bitten, even if the wound is superficial and likely to heal completely with minimal scarring, may suffer emotional trauma for the remainder of their lives. An unprovoked attack by a dog that may have been previously friendly to the child can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as other fears and phobias capable of negatively altering the child's life.
Because of this fact, parents who have a child that has recently been bitten by a dog should expect that counseling and other types of therapy may be necessary components in their child's long-term healing process.
Witness accounts are important for later action
One of the first things a parent must do after their child has received medical attention is to gather all possible witness accounts of the actual bite. In addition to collecting these statements and contact information for each witness, parents are urged to find and preserve any photos of the dog, the victim, or the actual event that may exist and make sure they are kept in a safe place. Witness accounts and photos are important factual evidence that will be needed if the parents decide to file a court case.
To learn more about your options to protect your child both physically and financially after an unfortunate dog attack has occurred, you can schedule a consultation with a dog bite attorney in your area.