About 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs each year, and some of the injuries are severe enough to warrant visits to emergency rooms across the country.

When a woman’s best friend goes awol, it can be traumatizing for the bite victim. Unfortunately, the victim is often a child. The good news is that most dog bites don’t result in serious injuries. But there is legal recourse for victims who sustain something other than superficial wounds. 

To start, report any dog bite incident to the local health authority. If the bite is severe, you should also report it to the police. You should also consider consulting a lawyer specializing in personal injury cases involving dog bites. The lawyer will let you know your options.

Dog barking and showing its teeth

Keep reading for three things you need to know about dog bite incidents and how a personal injury law lawyer can help.

1. Children Are the Most at Risk

It’s a sad reality that most dog bite victims are children, and most of these kids are in the mid-to-late childhood stage. You should also know that the risk of injury to the neck and head areas is higher in kids than in adults. So, kids bitten by dogs are more likely than adults to suffer severe injuries requiring medical treatment. 

One way to lower the odds of a dog biting your child is to ensure they know how to behave around animals. For instance, inform your child not to pet any dog without the owner’s permission, not to tease or provoke a dog, and to respect a dog’s personal space. Many dog bite incidents occur when dogs feel threatened, so people can avoid bites by minding their behavior.

If your child is the victim of a dog bite attack, you should seek medical attention. A doctor will assess your child, conduct tests or exams, and ensure your little one is okay. If the injury is severe or there are medical expenses, consult a personal injury lawyer. A legal professional will ensure your child gets any compensation warranted.

2. 20% of Dog Bite Victims Require Medical Attention

Nearly one in five — 20% — people bitten by dogs require medical attention. Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control notes that north of 800,000 dog bite victims get medical attention for their injuries each year. And, as has been mentioned, many patients are among the most vulnerable in society — children. 

Whether or not injuries require emergency room visits, there could be physical or emotional trauma due to a dog bite. That’s one reason to report dog bite issues to the appropriate authorities and to call a personal injury lawyer for counsel on what to do and how to proceed.

3. Any Dog (Yes, Even Lap Dogs) Is Capable of Bitting

Any dog is capable of biting people. Yes, some dog breeds are more aggressive than others. But any dog, big or small, can sink their teeth into someone. One source notes that the dog breeds most likely to bite people include, in order, rottweilers, chihuahuas, and cocker spaniels. Notice that numbers two and three aren’t aggressive-looking dogs. They’re cute and cuddly — but they can pack a mean bite if messed with. So, once again, any dog can bite.

If you or your child is ever bitten by a dog, it’s vital to report the incident to the appropriate agencies and get medical attention. While most dog bites won’t require a trip to a doctor, it’s not uncommon for victims to require medical attention. Rather than foot medical expenses out of pocket, you should consult a personal injury lawyer to see if you have a case. It’s a lot easier to focus on healing when you don’t have to worry about paying for medical care.