Dog Bite Liability

Dog bite laws vary from state to state. However,  all states generally hold dog owners liable for a dog attack. This is especially true if an owner knowingly kept a dog that had previously bit someone or has shown a tendency to bite. This has come to be known as the “one-free bite” rule because dog owners are shielded from liability if the dog had never bitten anyone or shown any tendency to do so. Almost all states place liability on someone who orders or makes a dog attack another person. In that case the person could also be charged criminally with battery.

Owner Liability

Commonly, the owner of the dog is the one responsible for a dog bite. The degree varies, but it doesn’t matter whether he or she knew their dog could attack. There are two limited exceptions to this rule in certain states. First, if the dog is provoked, the victim’s own negligence will be taken into account when determining damages. Second, if the bite occurs on the owner’s property, they usually cannot be found liable (unless the victim is under 6-years-old) if there is an easily readable sign in a prominent place that says “Bad Dog”.

Other Liable Persons

  • Dog keepers or caretaker could be also found liable if someone else besides the owner is in control. In this situation the keeper or caretaker of the animal can also be liable but not under strict liability. The keeper must have prior knowledge of the dog’s vicious tenancies before the keeper can be held liable. A prior attack accounts as prior knowledge. 
  • Landlords can be held liable for a victim’s injuries in a dog attack in some circumstances. Although sometimes it can be difficult to prove, a landlord must know the dog is vicious and have a right of removal. 
  • Residential property owners must have actual knowledge of the presence of a vicious dog. If a dangerous animal escapes from the landlord’s property due to defects (such as a hole in a fence), then the landlord could also be liable for off-site injuries caused in an attack.
  • Commercial property owners have a stringent duty to inspect the premises in order to discover any dangerous conditions. This includes a vicious pet. For example, if a commercial tenant is running a business on the property and the tenant’s dog bites a customer, the landlord may be liable. The landlord cannot avoid liability by claiming that he or she had no knowledge of the dog. This is because the landlord has a duty to inspect his commercial properties.

Contact An Attorney

According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States every year, and 900,000 of those bites become infected. The U.S. population is approximately 325.8 million people as of 2017. That means a dog bites 1 out of every 72 people.

If you or a loved one has suffered the shock and pain of a serious dog bite, attack or mauling, our complex litigation attorneys can work to help put the pieces of your life back together. The attorneys at The Michael Brady Lynch Firm have witnessed the devastating physical, emotional and financial effects these injuries can have on their victims. We have seen clients suffer serious injuries, which posed the risk of permanent scarring and incur costly medical bills for related treatments. We can help you obtain compensation for medical bills and other losses, including your pain and suffering.

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