Your son or daughter’s injuries hopefully will heal without complications. However, the main things that you should be concerned with are:
- Infection. Do exactly what the doctor tells you to do. Dog bite infections are rare but can be very, very serious. Be sure to take your child to the doctor if he has a lot of pain, there is redness at the wound that is getting worse, or if you see streaks of redness heading away from the wound.
- Crush injury. The bigger, powerful dogs have tremendous crush power in their jaws. A crush injury causes scar tissue and compression of the nerves in the soft tissues — and can also break bones. If your child complains of pain even after the wound heals, then you should take her to a doctor that has done a significant amount of work with dog bite victims and is familiar with crush injuries. If you detect any kind of disability — such as favoring the hand or limb that was bitten, or weakness in it — then your child might have a permanent problem, and should be seen by the appropriate physicians.
- Scars. Wounds can result in scars. Some people scar very badly. You should not think about resolving your child’s cliam until the scars have matured to some degree. In cases where an attorney knows that there will be scars, we do not settle them until at least 9 months have passed since the date of the attack. Plastic surgeons who revise scars do not like rendering a long term prognosis about them until at least one year after the attack. When the victim is very young (i.e., under 5 years), the skin rejuvinates and therefore it is difficult to predict what the wound site will look like.
- Emotional injuries. Some children stop talking, or start wetting their beds. Some start hitting their siblings. Some cry and cling to their parents. Some do not want to go outside, or to school. Any unusual behavior may be a sign of emotional injury. This kind of trauma heals most of the time. However, your child might need the assistance of a counselor. See the next section for more information.