Dogs can make great family pets, and it is not uncommon to spot owners walking their four-legged friends around neighborhoods. While most of these dogs might seem completely harmless, the reality is that they are still animals, and animals can attack. Certain dogs in particular have particularly strong jaws and are more prone to biting than others. Sadly, dog bite injuries affect children more than adults.
Recent research could help California families protect their young children. The study looked into the frequency and severity of bites based on head structure, size and breed. A medical journal published the results.
Pit bulls cause the most harm
Researchers concluded that pit bulls and dogs of mixed breeds not only bite most frequently, but also cause the most severe damage when they do. Dogs of different breeds that have similar head shapes -- wide and short -- and weigh anywhere from 66 to 100 pounds also bite at similar rates. Dogs classified as mixed breed in the study were generally dogs for which researchers could not determine a specific breed.
The study involved analyzing 15 years of data from two different health care systems. Researchers specifically focused on dog bites that caused facial trauma. They reviewed various factors for each trauma, including bone fractures, wound size, reconstructive surgery and more. This information allowed them to create a damage severity scale on which they were able to rank the different dog breeds.
Children are most vulnerable
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that dogs bite 4.7 million people annually. Of those, 20% require medical treatment. Children between the ages of 5 and 9 make up the vast majority of that 20% who need medical care. Dogs are much more likely to bite these children on the face because of their average heights, which puts their heads close to the same level as many larger dogs.
Owners should be vigilant when children are around their dogs. Children are less likely to pick up on subtle clues that dogs are frightened or aggravated. These are signs that adults notice but only because most have had exposure to dogs over many years and have more experience.
What should I do about my child's dog bite injury?
You are probably dealing with a very emotional situation. Your child might be in a significant amount of pain, and, depending on the severity of the bite, you could be looking at hefty medical bills for ongoing treatment and care. Like other dog bite victims, your child may develop a deep fear of any and all dogs. This can impact his or her ability to function in daily life.
If a negligent owner's dog bit your child, you could choose to pursue compensation through a personal injury suit. Although money cannot undo the harm, it can certainly help address the resulting damages of the dog bite injuries. Demonstrating negligence can be tricky though, and you may not feel secure in your ability to do so. If this is the case, you might find it helpful to first speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Taking this proactive step may be incredibly beneficial for moving forward with your personal injury claim.