Son sues father for dog bite
A young boy, bitten by his grandfather’s dog when he was two, has been awarded damages of R150 000 by a Durban High Court judge.
Nico Visser, father of dog bite victim Neill, brought the action against his own father Herman Visser, and his insurance company on behalf of Neill following the incident which occurred two days before Christmas 2006 at Herman’s eManzimtoti home.
The younger Visser was visiting with his wife and three young children from Pretoria and were preparing to go on a family outing.
Neill, who had just turned two, raised his hands asking for “Pappa” to pick him up. But Nico had his hands full with a younger child. Neill reached towards Herman’s Labrador, Stoffel, who bit him four times in the face.
According to the judgment handed down by Judge Trevor Gorvin, Neill was taken to St Augustine’s hospital where he was operated on for four hours and discharged on Christmas Day.
Stoffel was put down and Visser’s own two dogs were put down when the family returned to Pretoria.
Judge Gorvin said it was common cause that Neill had no personal recollection of being bitten and only knew about the incident because he had been told about it.
While the issue of past medical expenses and some of the future expenses were agreed on during trial, the issues of future surgery, psychological treatment and damages for pain and suffering had to be determined through evidence.
“The approach by the family to dogs after the incident can be characterised as consistent avoidance of, and protection of Neill from, exposure to dogs. Neill does not like dogs. He asks for dogs to be locked away. He gets anxious if he hears dogs barking. But he now tolerates small dogs, touching them but not playing with them.”
Pschologists who testified agreed, however, that his attitude had improved and he no longer had a “generalised fear of dogs”.
As such, he would require play therapy both to deal with his fear of dogs and to deal with any body image issues he may have from the facial scarring.
The judge said experts had agreed that Neill’s scars were visible but not disfiguring and that he would probably have scar revision surgery at 16 to reduce them.
“While he has no experience of a body image without scarring, that does not mean he will not become aware of how his scarring distinguishes him from his peers. It is likely this will be exacerbated in adolescence,” he said, awarding R70 000 for this and R80 000 in total for other past and future expenses.
Interest at 15.5 percent a year would be added to the total of R150 000, dating back to February 2007. - The Mercury
Source: IOL News