A 7-year-old girl required lifesaving surgery after two dogs attacked her at a home in Chesapeake, Virginia (VA), on the morning of December 13, 2015. She was bitten on her neck while playing with the dogs in a neighbor's yard off Margaret Drive.
A press release from Chesapeake Animal Control identified the dogs as Belgian Malinois. The breed is often trained to do search and rescue, bomb detection and police security. They resemble German Shepherds, and the dogs are bred for size and energeticness. They are not considered naturally aggressive, but files for owning "vicious dogs" were filed against the woman who kept these dogs in Chesapeake.
Of course, all dogs bite. When threatened, hurt or simply surprised, a dog has few defenses other than biting. Dogs will also sometimes misinterpret play as combat, and they may seriously injure a child when using force that would not harm an adult as badly.
The child bitten in Chesapeake is expected to survive. News reports do not, however, indicate whether she will suffer permanent scarring or if she incurred other possibly disabling injuries in addition to the damage to her neck. Regardless of her current condition and prognosis, the young girl's medical treatment is sure to be extensive and expensive. Her recovery may take months.
Homeowner's insurance generally covers animal attacks. Since the child was set upon by dogs owned by family friends, her parents would likely have solid grounds for filing claims for medical expenses, physical therapy and, possibly, mental trauma. If they chose to do so, they may encounter resistance from representatives of the dog owner's insurance company. Arguments used to avoid liability may include stating that the girl provoked the attack or that her own parents acted negligently by leaving her unsupervised with dogs that could injure her.
Collecting on even seemingly clear cut insurance claims often proves difficult. When they know their daughter is safely on the road to recovery, the dog bite victim's parents should consider consulting with a Virginia personal injury lawyer who can help them navigate the insurance process.