A third-grade girl was injured in a dog bite incident in the Lakeside area of San Diego when two dogs attacked her as she walked to school. According to a U-T San Diego news article, the dog attack occurred the morning of May 23, 2012 across the street from Lakeview Elementary School. A good Samaritan saw the dogs attacking the girl and came to her rescue.
The man, who officials say may have been a parent at the school, freed the 8-year-old girl from the animals and carried her into the school. He was also bitten as he rescued the girl. The child suffered bites to her calf. Animal control officials impounded the Labrador retriever and a German Shepherd and are still trying to determine if both dogs bit the girl. Officers are also looking into whether these dogs had been involved in other incidents and why they were running loose in the neighborhood.
My heart goes out to this young dog attack victim. I wish her the very best for a speedy and complete recovery. I also commend the good Samaritan whose timely intervention possibly prevented the girl from suffering more serious injuries.
Dog Bites Involving Children
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year, 800,000 Americans seek medical attention for dog bites. Half of these dog bite victims are children. Of those injured 386,000 require treatment in an emergency department and about 16 die. The rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years and the rate decreases as children age. Nearly two-thirds of injuries among children ages 4 years and younger are to the head and neck region.
Laws and Liability Issues
Based on this news report, officials are still trying to determine who the dogs’ owner is and why the dogs were running around in the neighborhood. California has a “strict liability statute” when it comes to dog bite injuries. California’s Civil Code Section 3342 states: “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”
Dog owners are responsible for keeping their pets on leash. Dog owners, under the law, can be held financially liable for injuries caused to victims. An injured dog bite victim or his or her family can seek compensation to cover medical expenses, loss of wages, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, cost of cosmetic procedures, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Compensation may also be available through the dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy. Victims would be well advised to contact an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected.