With students heading back to school, parents have a lot to be concerned about. What will the new teachers be like? Will their student like school and strive to get good grades? With their student make new friends easily or be bullied? How far will they have to walk to and from the bus stop and is it a safe walk?
One thing parents often do not think about is what to do if their child is bitten or mauled by a dog while waiting for the bus or walking to and from the bus stop. Unfortunately, that happens.
Every year in the U.S., approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs. More than 20 percent require medical treatment and 27,000 are injured so severely they need to be hospitalized. Hundreds require reconstructive surgery. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has guidelines parents can provide their children to prevent dog attacks, or at least minimize the damage.
Guidelines for Students Walking to and from the Bus Stop
The CDC provides the following guidelines for what to do when faced with an unfamiliar approaching dog. Parents need to be sure their children know about these so they can act appropriately if such an emergency situation arises.
- Never attempt to pet an unfamiliar dog.
- Stand very still. Do not run.
- Do not have eye contact with the dog.
- Turn so you are sideways to the dog and not facing it head on.
- Say very firmly, but without yelling, “Go home,” or “No.”
- Try to keep your backpack between you and the dog.
- If the dog knocks you down, roll into a ball and put your hands around your head to protect it.
If the dog actually attacks you, you have to defend yourself. Now is the time to call loudly for help, hit and punch. Fight as though your life depends on it because it just might.
What to do After a Dog Bite
In the confusion and concern after a dog attack, there are some important things to do:
- If the wound is bleeding, apply pressure and see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
- Take photographs of the wound.
- Report the attack to animal control.
- Track down the owner and find out if the dog’s immunizations are current. Also, it is important to determine if the dog has bitten or snapped at anyone before.
Get the owner’s homeowner’s insurance information.
- Write down exactly what your child tells you happened.
- Obtain statements of witnesses.
Collecting Damages from the Dog’s Owner
Under Georgia law, owners are liable for injuries caused by their dog if certain conditions are met:
- The animal is vicious or dangerous.
- The owner knew, or should have known, its animal was vicious or dangerous.
- The owner did not take reasonable care to restrain the animal or protect others from injury.
- These actions and/or inactions caused injury to another person.
- The injured person did not provoke the attack.
The Georgia Supreme Court recently ruled that if the dog has snapped at someone before, it may be considered vicious or dangerous. Also, if the county where the attack occurred has a leash law, and the dog was running free, that is enough evidence to show the owner was careless with the animal and let it go.
While most Georgia counties have leash laws, not all do. But, some go further and require the pet owners to confine their dog behind a fence. If the circumstances of your child’s dog bite do not fit under this code section, you may still be able to collect for damages under a negligence theory.
Consult an Attorney for Help
Georgia law concerning dog bites is somewhat complex. You need the assistance of the experienced dog bite attorneys at Georgia Trial Attorneys. We will work diligently to see that you receive all the compensation to which you are legally entitled.
The law places a time limit on how long you must file your claim for compensation following the actual attack. Do not let that time elapse. Contact us as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.