My Neighbors’ Dog Bit My Child. Now What?

We Americans love our dogs – so much that 63.4 million homes in the United States include at least one canine member. Unfortunately, many of those dogs end up biting someone, and most often, the victim is a child.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are the facts about dog bites:

  • More than 4.5 million dog bites are reported each year in the United States.
  • The rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for 5- to 9-year-olds.
  • Injuries are more severe for children who are bitten by dogs than adults who are bitten by dogs.
  • Nearly one in five people bitten by dogs requires medical attention.

If your child is bitten by your neighbors’ dog, the logical first step is to seek medical attention. Next, report the bite to your local animal control or the police department. Then contact a personal injury law firm for qualified advice on how to negotiate the best outcome for your child and your family.

Here at Hornsby, Watson & Hornsby, we’ve helped clients understand their rights and receive compensation in injury cases for more than 30 years. We can guide you through the complicated laws that address injuries and liability in dog bite cases.

Alabama law establishes liability for dog owners when the dog bites a lawful guest on the dog owner’s property, or when the guest leaves the dog owner’s property and is pursued and bitten off the property. Other factors may prevent or lessen liability for the dog owner. For instance, an exception is made if the dog was provoked by the victim, causing the dog to attack. Also established under this statute, dog owners may defend the case by proving they had no knowledge the dog was vicious.

Another statute from Alabama Code addresses “vicious” dogs that are carelessly managed or allowed to roam. In this situation, the dog owner is liable for damages if another person, who is without fault, is injured.

Also, Emily’s Law, established in 2018 after a Jackson County woman was attacked and killed by dogs outside her home, imposes felony charges on dog owners in cases of serious injury or death. Misdemeanor charges are allowed in cases of less serious injury.

Homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies typically cover dog bite liability legal expenses up to liability limits. In 2019, homeowners’ insurers paid $797 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The average cost per claim in 2019 was $44,760.
The attorneys at Huntsville-based Hornsby, Watson & Hornsby will help you determine whether to proceed with your case. Call us today for a free consultation.

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