Dog attack reports usually involve gruesome details. Dog attacks that involve children are even more heartbreaking, especially when they are fatal. A dog attack in Lenoir, North Carolina a few days ago took the life of a one-year-old boy. While his family grieves this tremendous loss, who was negligent in this particular case?
Grandparents? In this particular dog attack in Caldwell County, local news reports show that the victim was playing in the yard with his 5-year-old brother when the attack occurred. The dog was chained in the same yard--the children's grandparents' yard. According to the reports, the older brother ran to get help when the dog started attacking. The brother found his grandfather in bed, and his grandmother was washing dishes. The children had been left in the care of their grandparents while the boys' mother was out.
Previous dog owner? The dog had only been in the family's home for less than a month. North Carolina's one-bite rule may affect dog bite cases that involve this particular dog. Without knowing the dog's history, it is difficult to say if negligence might fall on the dog's previous owner. Did the previous owner know of an incident where the dog bit another person or animal? An investigation would be necessary.
Statistics show that children are the victims of dog attacks more often than adults. Supervising children--especially toddlers--around dogs is critical. As the victim's loved ones pay tribute to the toddler's life, how can the void be filled? An individual's life can never be replaced, but wrongful death claims help compensate surviving family members.
Aside from the possible negligent sources above, there may be other parties to consider. Just before the attack, reports state the children were playing on a swingset that was set up outside of the reach of the dog's chain. Officials reported the dog remained chained when they responded to the accident scene. If the toddler had been in a locked swingset (which is not clear from the details in the reports), perhaps the manufacturer created a faulty locking mechanism that allowed the toddler to leave the swing and into the area where the dog was chained? In other dog bite cases, some owners fail to provide adequate fencing. Perhaps a chained dog was not sufficient for the the safety of the children?
Accident evidence would need to be gathered to make accurate determinations. Sadly, this dog attack case not only serves an example of different areas of negligence in an injury case, but it is also a reminder that children need to be safe around dogs. If you own a dog--even if it has never exhibited aggressive behavior--make sure you have a properly maintained fence or tether, and that you always watch children when in the presence of your dog. If your children are spending time at a family member or friend's house where you know a dog or dogs will be present--take extra precautions. Let our dog bite injury attorneys know if you have any questions about North Carolina dog bite laws.