Utah Child Loses Hand Following Bite From Neighbor’s Dog

In Layton, Utah, a 4-year-old boy lost his hand when a husky belonging to a neighbor came under the fence and bit him. In this case, it appears the child was trying to play with the dog through a fence and had a sock covering his hand. The child’s mother, Hope Brown, told the media that the dog “went under our fence and bit Austin’s hand and then attempted to pull him back under the fence. Our baby lost his arm from the elbow down because it was ingested by the dog.”  See KSL News story here. During the attack, the child suffered multiple bites and had severe bruising on his face and jaw.

Possible Personal Injury Claim. This horrific incident will likely scar this child the rest of his life, both physically and mentally. In Utah, a dog owner is responsible for keeping the pet and is considered strictly liable for any damages and injuries that are caused by the dog.

Utah’s dog bite law is found at Utah Code § 18-1-1, and states:

(1) Every person owning or keeping a dog is liable in damages for injury committed by the dog, and it is not necessary in the action brought therefor to allege or prove that the dog was of a vicious or mischievous disposition or that the owner or keeper of the dog knew that it was vicious or mischievous.

While the Utah Code does not require the victim to prove the dog was “vicious or mischievous,” fault will still be assigned in these cases. Important questions remain to be asked, such as: Does the dog have a prior bite history? Were the owners negligent in how they kept the dog? And Was the child antagonizing the dog?

[See: Seven Things You Must Do After a Dog Bites You in Utah]

What Type of Compensation Is Available? In cases where the dog owner will likely be found liable for the injuries, the child can receive compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and future inability to work.

Legally speaking, it is likely that Austin will need extensive treatment and physical therapy for years to come. Any recovery in this case under Utah Law would likely need to be set up in a conservatorship for the minor, and the remainder of the funds after the parents have paid for continuing medical care, would be dispersed to the child at 18 years of age.

In this case, we extend our best wishes for the best recovery possible for Austin, knowing that this preventable dog attack will change his life forever.