Why Are Children More Likely to Get Bitten by a Dog? 

Being bit by a dog is a traumatic experience for a child and their family. According to the United States Center for Disease Control, there are approximately 4.5 million dog bites that happen in the United States every year and approximately 1/5 of those bites lead to hospitalization. Of these millions of dog bites that occur in the United States, a high proportion of those are children. According to the CDC, kids under the age of 14 accounting for more than 50% of dog bite injuries. Children between the ages of 5 and 9 have the highest rate of dog bite injuries, followed by children aged 0-4 years and 10-14 years. Boys are more likely to be bitten by dogs than girls. The face is the most common body part bitten in children. dog bite child

Here are a few reasons why children are more susceptible to being bit:

Children May Not Correctly Interpret Dog Behavior

Children often do not properly interact with dogs.  Many children may not correctly read a dog’s body language and may not recognize signs that a dog is feeling threatened or uncomfortable. As a result, they may approach dogs in ways that are perceived as threatening, such as staring directly into a dog’s eyes, approaching the dog when it is sleeping or eating, or even hug or attempt to kiss the dog.

Children May Appear Threatening to Dogs 

Children are often more active and energetic than adults, which can make them appear threatening to dogs. They may run, jump, or scream, which can trigger a dog or cause the dog to become anxious or defensive. Additionally, children may be more likely to approach unfamiliar dogs, as they may not fully understand the potential risks involved.

Children and Aggressive Dog Breeds

Some dog breeds are known to be more aggressive than others, and children may be more likely to encounter these breeds due to their popularity or prevalence in certain areas. These breeds include pit bulls, rottweilers, German shepherds, bulldogs, and huskies. However, it is important to note that any breed of dog can bite and that the likelihood of a dog biting is often related to factors such as lack of training, socialization, and proper care, rather than the dog's breed.

Children May Be More Vulnerable to Dog Bite Injuries

Finally, children may be more vulnerable to serious injuries as a result of dog bites, due to their smaller size and weaker immune systems. Children are also more likely to sustain injuries to the face, head, and neck, which can result in long-term scarring and emotional trauma.

Preventing Dog Bites in Children 

To reduce the risk of dog bites among children in Missouri, it is important for parents and caregivers to teach children how to properly interact with dogs. This includes teaching your children to read a dog’s body language, asking the dog owner if it’s okay for their child to pet the dog, and avoiding certain behaviors that may be perceived as threatening. Parents and other caregivers should also supervise children when they are around dogs and ensure that dogs are properly trained and socialized. By taking these steps, we can help to prevent dog bites and keep our children safe.

If your child has been bit by a dog, hopefully the dog owner has significant assets or insurance that can pay for the damages, which can be quite substantial. These damages may include medical expenses, lost wages (most likely of the parent who had to take off work to care for their child), pain and suffering, and other costs associated with the injury. If the defendant does not have insurance, they may be personally responsible for paying these damages out of their own pocket, which can be financially devastating. If a child has been bit, an attorney should work with a structured settlement company to protect any recovery that the child receives so that they can receive the benefit of their settlement (with interest) when they obtain the age of 18 (or even later depending on the parent’s wishes).

Dog Bite Liability in Missouri

Because Missouri is a strict liability state, the owner of a dog is usually “automatically” liable for any injuries caused by their dog, regardless of whether the owner was negligent or knew that the dog had a history of aggression. However, in Missouri, comparative fault may be considered, meaning a court may consider the victim's actions at the time of the attack when determining the amount of damages to award. For example, if the victim was provoking the dog or trespassing on the owner's property, the court may reduce the damages awarded to reflect the victim's level of fault.

Because dog bite cases can be complex and may involve a wide range of legal issues, such as insurance coverage, medical records, and witness testimony, it is important to work with an experienced dog bite attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries. If a child was bit by a dog and obtains compensation through settlement or trial, a Judge will need approve any settlement and make sure the settlement is in the best interest of the minor child. We at Foster Wallace have decades of experience and have handled countless dog bite cases for victims and their families. We welcome the chance to work for you and navigate the legal landscape to obtain the most money for someone who has unfortunately been bit by a dog.