Are you liable if your dog bites someone?
Dog bite liability is generally placed on the owner of a dog. Dog owners are the primary party who is responsible for the aggressive actions of their dogs. Dog bite liability laws outline the responsibilities of dog owners to prevent their animals from causing injury or property damage to others. When an owner fails to keep their dog under control and the dog bites another person, they can be held liable for any damages that are caused including medical expenses, loss of income, disability, and pain and suffering.
Dog bite liability can also be placed on other parties who have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment free from the risk of aggressive dogs. Landlords may responsible for dog bite liability if they have knowledge that a tenant in housing a dog that has a history of biting people, given that the landlord has authority to expel the tenant from his/her property. Daycare centers can also have a dog bite liability if they permit a dangerous dog onto their property while children or other potential victims are present.
Dog bite liability laws
Dog bite liability laws are governed by each state and local jurisdiction. These laws are enforced by local law enforcement and animal control authorities. As a general rule, the following parties have dog bite liability: any party whose negligence caused or contributed to the dog bite incident; any party in violation of local leash, restraint, and other animal control laws; and those who keep a dog with the knowledge that the dog has a history of injuring people. A dog owner can have a dog bite liability for any incident that occurs in a public or lawfully private location. Dog bite liability is generally not placed on canines that, in the line of duty with law enforcement of military persons, cause injury to a person.
A dog only has to bite once for an owner to have a dog bite liability. This dog bite liability is usually outlined in a state’s “dog bite statute” laws, which allow a victim of a dog bite to seek compensation for their losses even if the dog aggressor has had no previous bite history. Dog bite liability laws also require that any dog that has bitten a person before or provoked defensive actions to prevent injury on two occasions be registered with animal control or law enforcement as a potentially aggressive or vicious dog. Once registered as such, the dog owner has an even greater dog bite liability and must keep the dog indoors or in a securely fenced outdoor area away from other persons. A vicious dog may have to be put down at an animal control center if dog bite liability risks are too great.
Document the Incident
For a victim to prove dog bite liability, it is important that they gather all pertinent information about the incident, those who witnessed the bite, the dog owner, and the dog or dogs involved. The police and/or local animal control officials should also be notified of a dog bite incident. Taking pictures of the dog bite injuries and keeping an accurate record of the incident and all events to follow is also crucial when proving dog bite liability. In general, if a person has suffered losses as a result of dog bite injuries they will have to provide proof of dog bite liability to their insurance company, and possibly a court of law, in order to receive compensation for their losses.
Can I sue for a minor dog bite?
If you would like to learn more about dog bite liability, you may wish to contact a qualified attorney who can advise you of your legal rights and options.