Children and Elderly Vulnerable to Dog Bites

November 14, 2016 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Children and Elderly Vulnerable to Dog Bites

Dog bites may not seem like a major issue affecting our communities, but the reality is that they happen quite often. The injuries from dog bites are often minor, however, they can cause serious and permanent injuries or death. In addition to the physical, often scarring injuries some dogs can inflict, the experience itself may leave behind emotional scars as well. Considering that a majority of dog bite victims are children and the elderly (those with the most difficulty resisting such an attack), it is really no surprise that the experience can create a lasting sense of vulnerability, trauma, and emotional distress.

Florida and Dog Bite Law

In Florida, dog owners are considered to be strictly liable for the actions of their dog. This means that regardless of negligence, action, or inaction, the dog owner will always be at fault if their dog bites another person.

Because of the strictly liable clause, dog owners are civilly liable for the injuries their dog inflicts. This is only the case if the dog bites the victim in a public place. It also applies to victims who were in a private dwelling legally. This is designed to make owners strictly liable in all cases except trespassing.

In some circumstances, the owner may be able to escape liability. For example, if the victim did something drastic to cause or contribute to the dog's actions. In extreme cases of this sort, the owner may have a chance of reducing their responsibility.

Random Dog Pack Attack

Just last week in Memphis, Tennessee, an 8-year-old boy was attacked by 4 dogs after they chased him down. The boy survived the attack and is now recovering from the large gash on his thigh. Neither the boy nor his mother recognized any of the four dogs from around the neighborhood. They were seen running off into the woods after the attack.

Although most cases of dog bites happen to family and friends of the dog's owner, and most occur on private property, it is very possible to be attacked by strange dogs in public places. The preceding case shows that dog attacks can happen in an instant, seemingly out of nowhere. The boy is lucky to be recovering from his wounds at home.

Friend's Dog Kills Child

Last year, 7-year-old Gaege Ramirez was mauled by a pack of five dogs while visiting a friend's house in Texas. Gaege went into the backyard to play just before the attack. A short time later, his mother found him with severe lacerations all over his body. He was airlifted to the local hospital, where he later died of his injuries.

This case proves that just because the dog(s) belong to someone you know, that doesn't mean they aren't capable of biting or attacking. Often people think of deadly dog attacks as a random event happening on a neighborhood street. But more often, the victim and owner know each other. In this case, the boy was small and the pack of dogs was large. It will never be known exactly what set the dogs off, but it probably didn't take much. It is easy to forget that dogs were once wild and vicious creatures fighting to survive, but that is exactly what they are and that mentality is still somewhere deep inside them.

Elderly at Risk of Dog Bites

71-year-old Annie Williams was attacked as she got out of her car to pick up her two great-granddaughters. The dog belonged to one of the people living in the home. Her injuries were severe and she later died from the wounds.

83-year-old Petra Aguirre was attacked by a neighbor's dog in her California backyard. The dog bites reportedly covered her entire body. She, too, later died from her wounds.

75-year-old Betty Clark was out delivering Christmas presents to her neighbors just before the holiday when she was attacked by the two dogs. She had bites on all her limbs, torso, abdomen, and head, according to the hospital. The attack knocked her unconscious from which she never recovered. She died in the hospital a few weeks later.

Like children, the elderly are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks because of their fragility and lack of strength and speed. A healthy adult possesses more ability to fight off a dog, run, climb, or generally fight for their life. Children and elderly do not possess and equal level these skills.

Dog Attacks Can Be Persistent

A 2-year-old boy and his mother were attacked by two dogs outside their home. The dogs surrounded the boy on the front lawn before mauling his mother who was attempting to save him. The attack lasted more than 5 minutes, with continuous biting, scratching, and barking. Luckily, a neighbor saved this family from sure death. The boy did, however, need reconstructive surgery to repair the damage.

Dogs (and their ancestors, the wolf) are pack hunters by nature. They must wound their prey, then persistently molest, attack, and follow their meal until they can consume it. Although modern dogs (with their sweaters and plush beds) do not need to do this to eat, they still possess the instinct. It is something not likely to go away for thousands of years.

For now, we must recognize the widespread issue of dog bites, and continue to hold those responsible in an effort to increase dog owner responsibility.

Check out this article for tips on how to prevent a dog bite.

Dog Bite Statistics

  • There are 885,000 bites per year.
  • 1 in 5 are serious enough to require medical attention.
  • Over 1,000 people are sent to the ER every day with a dog bite.
  • Roughly 25,000 people require reconstructive surgery from dog bites each year.
  • Dog bites are the fifth leading cause of children going to the hospital.
  • Since the 1980s, there has been an 82 percent increase in fatal dog attacks.
  • Over 50 percent of dog bites occur on the dog owner's property.

Dolman Law Group

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, contact a Clearwater personal injury attorney right away. Victims of dog bites often experience substantial physical injuries, but also emotional and psychological pain and suffering. Fortunately, Florida tort law allows victims to recover compensation for these and other losses caused by a dog bite.

At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA we understand that you have questions and concerns. One of our experienced attorneys will gladly go over your case and explain your rights as the victim. You have nothing to lose by consulting with a personal injury attorney. There is no fee, no obligation; just advice on your case. It has been proven that those who hire an attorney for the injury, recover more for their damages. Call and schedule a free consultation at (727) 451-6900

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

(727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

Learn More