The Legal Issues Surrounding Dog Bite Injuries

The Legal Issues Surrounding Dog Bite Injuries

Every year about 5 million people are victims of dog bites. Medical care is required for about 800,000 of these victims while about 300,000 need emergency medical treatment. Deaths are relatively uncommon though they do happen. Cases of fatalities occur mostly among children.

A Terrible Breed

Many people believe pit bulls should be outlawed but they are not the only dogs that cause societal issues. Nevertheless, they are not a sparkling breed of dog and many times their owners are the instigators.

The “One Bite” Anomaly

There is a bit of an incongruity where dog bites are concerned. Under common law the owner of the dog becomes liable only if he/she had prior knowledge that the dog is dangerous. This presupposes that the dog cannot be considered dangerous till it has bitten at least one person, and by extension the owner cannot be held responsible for the “first bite”. Once the dog has bitten someone it is then presumed dangerous for which the owner is liable for ensuing attacks or bites.

But there are situations where a personal injury lawyer can bypass the “one bite rule”. Sometimes a dog is innately aggressive whether by treatment, training, or temperament. In such a case the owner can be held liable because he/she cannot claim to be unsuspecting that the dog could be dangerous and possibly bite.

There are other exceptions where the owner is responsible like in failing to follow laws that require that a dog be properly kenneled, caged, or leashed.

Statutes of Strict Liability

Many states have done away with the “one bite” rule. Dog owners, handlers, or dog sitters are liable for all dog bites and attacks. The laws and defenses vary considerably from one state to the next. Some common defenses in dog bite cases are:

  • Provocation by the victim which incited the dog to bite. This could be overt like teasing, hitting, or poking the dog, or unintentional, like dropping and picking up a piece of food which the dog is slavering after.
  • Trespassing into an area in the course of which the dog bit the victim. The victim might not have a claim.
  • Assuming a risk, like a dog trainer training a dog, where the risk of being bitten is assumed. The trainer has no claim if bitten.

Make the Call

If you or your loved one has been bitten by a dog you might be able to bring charges and claim compensation from the owner. Because there could be complications depending on the state where you live, an accident lawyer representing you will strongly reinforce your case.