What to Do if Your Child is Injured by a Dog Bite Over the Holidays

During the holidays, many people travel to visit family members and loved ones. You may be traveling with your young children to visit family members in another town, county, or state. Airports are packed, and traffic can be challenging during the holidays. When you finally arrive at your destination, everyone may be tired and somewhat stressed. Humans are not the only ones who may feel the stress of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Holidays can also put stress on the family dog and potentially cause dog bites to occur.

Holidays Stress Can Trigger Dog Bites

Dogs may not be used to being around children, and children may not know how to act safely around dogs. Even when children are well-trained to be gentle and considerate to dogs, dogs can become anxious and lash out, biting a small child. Many people are shocked when a dog that has never bitten anyone before bites a child. Even a dog that typically acts calm and has never shown aggressive behavior can lash out in an unfamiliar situation.

During large holiday gatherings, dogs may feel like their safety is threatened. Dog bites are more familiar than most people realize and can account for over one-third of homeowners insurance settlements. Suppose your child is among the many victims of dog bite incidents. In that case, you must understand your rights and consider pursuing a claim for compensation under North Carolina's dog bite laws.

Strict Liability for Dog Bites

Under North Carolina dog bite laws, three legal theories exist for recovering compensation for dog bite victims. These three theories are strict liability, negligence, and negligence per se. When a dog bite victim can prove that strict liability should apply, they can recover compensation from the owner or caretaker of the dog. The plaintiff only needs to verify that the dog caused their injuries and was dangerous. A dangerous dog is a dog that has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person without provocation or has been determined to be a dangerous dog.

A dog is determined to be a dangerous dog by the board designated by the relevant county or municipal authority responsible for animal control because the dog has engaged in one or more stated dangerous behaviors. Additionally, any dog that has been harbored or owned primarily or in part for dog fighting or trained for dog fighting is considered dangerous. When a dangerous dog bites a person resulting in disfiguring lacerations, cosmetic surgery or hospitalization, or broken bones, kills a victim, or approaches a person and a vicious and terrorizing Manor, the owner can be held strictly liable for any injuries that result.


Suppose you cannot prove the above criteria regarding the dog bite that injured your child. In that case, you May still be able to recover compensation through the theory of negligence. If you can prove that the animal was dangerous, mischievous, vicious, or ferocious and that the owner knew or should have known about the animal's vicious propensity, you can recover compensation. For example, if the dog had snapped at children multiple times before biting your child, you may be able to prove that the owner knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous.

Negligence Per Se

When a dog owner or caretaker has violated a local ordinance or statute intended to protect people from dog bites, the victim can recover under the legal theory of negligence per se—proving that the legal doctrine of negligence per se will make it easier for you to recover compensation. Once you prove negligence per se, you only need to prove that the animal caused your child's injuries.

Damages Available

Unfortunately, dog bites are particularly traumatic for children and can be disfiguring. Dogs tend to attack a child's face when they lash out and may cause permanent scars requiring multiple reconstructive surgeries. Your child may need to recover many stitches from a plastic surgeon and then undergo additional therapy to reduce the appearance of disfiguring scars. By pursuing a claim against the at-fault owner, you can recover some of the medical expenses you need and other damages your family has suffered due to the dog by injury.

Discuss Your Case with a Personal injury Attorney

If a dog bites your child over the holidays, it is crucial that you discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible. Reach out to the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule your free case evaluation.

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