East Providence Child Killed in Dog Attack

WP_20140617_014-300x169Under very tragic circumstances, a 15-month-old toddler died last week after sustaining injuries from a dog bite attack in East Providence. The young girl suffered significant injuries resulting from a “pit bull type” dog and was transported to Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, where she died shortly after. Two adults were also hurt, less seriously, while trying to intervene. This is an extremely heartbreaking and shocking situation to hear about, especially for an innocent child. As personal injury lawyers in Rhode Island, it unfortunately has similarities to dog bite injuries that we encounter with clients of all ages on a regular basis.

What many people don’t realize is that bites can happen with any type of dog, even the normally sweet family dog.  Many of these injuries are minor, in fact, the majority of dog bites don’t require medical care. However, statistics show that when attacks are inflicted by certain breeds, such as pit-bulls, they result in more severe damage, critical injuries, and fatalities. While injuries can occur with any type of dog, 76% of dog bite fatalities involve pit bulls and rottweilers.  Pit-bull’s, the type of breed involved in the East Providence incident, account for 66% of these deaths. The most frequent victims of canine aggression include kids, the elderly, and postal service workers.

Dog Bites & Children

Children between the ages of 0-2 have the highest rate of fatalities for dog bites, 27%. Almost half of these young victims are babies under the age of 1. Dog bite injuries to a small child or baby can be extremely detrimental, even fatal.  As lawyers, we encounter injuries related to aggressive behavior in dogs where often, the victim or their family has no idea what provoked the animal. A dog may attack for any number of reasons including feeling threatened or stressed, being startled, not feeling well, to protect their puppies, owners, or themselves, as a reaction to a loud noise, or rough play. Babies and small children might cry or make noises that are unfamiliar to, or try to “play” with, a dog that feels threatening and stressful to the canine.

When a dog attacks a child, it frequently injures the child’s head and neck due to their smaller height. Severe injuries to the face can result in permanent scarring and disfigurement, which can have life-long emotional and physical repercussions. As the child’s body grows and changes, additional surgery may be required to accommodate the injuries and adjust them to a changing body. An experienced personal injury attorney will take future procedures into consideration when seeking compensation for a child dog bite victim. Many dog bite victims, especially kids, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)  Professional help may be beneficial, but painful memories from the attack can still linger and disrupt their normal lives, making an everyday activity like walking down the street, difficult and stressful for fear of encountering a dog.

RI Dog Bite Laws

When a dog attacks a person and inflicts injury, its owner may be held liable depending on the circumstances, the location of the accident (on or off the dog owner’s property) and the state where the incident occurred. In Rhode Island, the “one bite” rule is often interpreted as allowing a dog one “free” bite, before its owner is held liable. However, this may or may not hold true and is dependent on other factors including if the owner had prior knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensities, or the animal had been involved in a dangerous incident in the past. A skilled personal injury lawyer will make these determinations after reviewing all the evidence from your dog bite claim.

Liability for a dog bite in RI may also depend on if the attack took place in an “enclosure” such as a fence on the owner’s property, off the owner’s property, whether the victim was trespassing, and/or the age of the victim. Pertaining to the East Providence toddler tragedy last week, according to East Providence City records, there is no record of a dog licensed at the home where the incident took place and police were unaware of any prior incidents involving the animal. Further investigation into the tragic accident is pending.

Hiring a Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney for Your Dog Bite

If you or your child are hurt by a dog, it’s important to seek immediate medical help and then consult an experienced lawyer well-versed in Rhode Island dog bite injury laws to help you seek compensation. At Tapalian Law, we understand the high cost of medical treatment for physical injuries and emotional trauma resulting from a dog attack. The average cost of a dog bite related stay in a hospital is $18,200, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  Injuries from a dog bite can leave lasting physical and emotional repercussions and frequently, when filing a dog bite injury claim, costs for future care and treatment need to be factored in as these types of injuries often necessitate future care such as scar revision and psychological counseling. If these expenses are not included in your personal injury settlement, you may be left paying for them out of pocket. Let the top-rated Rhode Island injury lawyers at Tapalian Law get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

With a main office in Providence, and locations in Warwick, RI and Seekonk, MA, our personal injury law firm has been helping people injured in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, dog attacks, and all types of injuries in RI and MA for over 20 years. Call Attorney David Tapalian today for a free consultation at 401-552-5000, for your RI dog bite claim or MA dog bite claim. You can also contact us with our easy, online form.

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