National Dog Bite Prevention Week April 2022: Protecting the Youngest Victims

While canines may be among America’s favorite household pets, the fact that there is an event dedicated to reducing the number of dog bites indicates that these four-legged friends can still be dangerous. This April 10-16, 2022 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, a time for the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to draw attention to the dangers, offer safety tips, and remind the public that even nice dogs can attack. Another hint to the AVMA initiative is found in the title itself: It is possible to prevent dog bites with proper care. 

Among all the useful points made by AVMA in their literature about dog bite prevention is a disturbing statistic: Around 50% of victims are children. Parents can rest assured that Florida laws cover these cases, but incidents involving minors raise complicated legal issues. A Miami child injuries attorney will help navigate the challenges, and some information about these cases is useful.

Why Children Tend to be Dog Bite Victims

Perhaps the main reason many victims are kids is that children absolutely, almost universally love dogs. They adore the canines in their own homes, and the pets kept by friends, family, and neighbors. Children are also very friendly with dogs belonging to strangers on the street. Their unabashed devotion often puts them in harm’s way. Plus, other factors that impact the frequency of dog bites among kids:

  • Young children may not understand the risks or know the safe way to approach animals, even those they know well.
  • Many toddlers are around eye-height for the dog, which may lead the animal to sense aggression and lash out – with the child also at mouth-height.
  • Children tend to be louder, run around, and make quick movements, all of which could make the dog feel uneasy and prone to attack.

Liability in Florida Dog Bite Claims

The state has enacted a statute that imposes strict liability on the owners when a dog bites someone, regardless of whether the animal had bitten or shown viciousness in the past. Florida’s dog bite law does not cover situations where the dog causes injuries without biting, such as pushing the victim to the ground. The state also recognizes negligence as a form of liability, so the owner could be liable for failing to exercise reasonable care in securing the dog.

There are some challenges with dog bite claims to note:

  • A victim who was trespassing on private property when attacked is barred from recovering compensation.
  • If a victim’s negligence contributed to the incident, compensation is reduced accordingly.
  • Under the statute, an owner can escape liability in some cases by posting a “Bad Dog” sign on the premises.

Talk to a Miami Child Injuries Lawyer About Dog Bite Claims

To learn more about seeking monetary damages when the victim is a child, please call (305) 371-6000 or go online to reach Gerson & Schwartz, PA. We are happy to set up a no-cost consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, FL. Once we review your circumstances, we can discuss your rights and remedies.

Florida Justice Association
The National Center for Victims of Crime
outh Florida Legal Guide
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