Dog Bites and Personal Injury Suits: Who is Liable?
Annually, over 4.7 million individuals become victims of dog bites around the U.S. About 1 in 5 dog bites is serious enough to warrant medical attention, which means that medical bills and personal injury claims can definitely become huge problems if you are an owner of dogs of any kind.
When it comes to issues about personal injury because of a dog bite, the question of liability often becomes the main query. As an owner of a dog, or as a victim of a dog bite, it is important that you know the different cases surrounding dog bites and personal injury. Apart from approaching a reputable dog bite attorney, here are some things that might help you understand dog bites and personal injury suits.
The Issue of Liability in Dog Bite Laws
Negligence is often the end-all-and-be-all when it comes to issues of liability. Usually, as long as the injury or the grievance is a direct result of the negligent act(s) of a person, he/she will automatically be deemed legally responsible for those damages. In this legal concept, since you owe a legal duty of care to others in specific situations, failing to afford that amount of care will make you liable for the damages that have sprung from your actions.
However, when it comes to the subject of a dog bite, the issue of liability varies depending on the state you live in.
One Bite Law
There are some states that have the One Bite Law, which basically means that you get one free pass from personal injury claims if it is your dog’s first time to bite someone. The rationale behind the One Bite Law is the fact that, prior to the first bite, you had no reason to believe that your dog can be aggressive and dangerous. It becomes your first notice, and you’ll be liable for the injuries made by your dog after that first bite.
However, there are some exceptions to the one bite rule. If, upon the first bite, you actually knew or had reason to believe that your dog might have a tendency to be aggressive, you can be held liable even at first bite. If the court has also found out that you have violated laws to prevent such injuries like the leash law, or if you were negligent, then you might not be safe from paying damages to the victim of your pet’s dog bite.
Another kind of law, which is the one followed by most states, including ours, is the Strict Liability Law. Following the strict liability law when it comes to a dog bite, regardless of proof of negligence, owners of dogs of all kinds are strictly responsible for every injury that his/her dog has caused. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t know that your dog was dangerous, or if you did everything to restrain your dog from injuring a person. As long as the damage has been done, you are liable for the medical bills and other payments that must be given to the person who was injured.
Although the Strict Liability law is pretty tight, there are some exceptions that prevent a dog owner from being liable for a dog bite. If the person who was bitten has provoked the dog, either by acting aggressively or by hitting and kicking the dog, the owner may not be held accountable for the damages. Similarly, if the victim is a trespasser who has entered into your property without permission, then you are safe from paying damages for the dog bite.
It is important to remember that no matter what state you are in, regardless if it is a One Bite state or a Strict Liability state, as long as your negligence has played a part in causing the injury, you will most probably be considered liable.
The only difference is, in Strict Liability states, in most cases, a person does not need to prove negligence in order to hold the owner accountable. The general rule is that as long as a dog has bitten someone, the owner will be automatically liable.
Speak with a Dog Bite Attorney for Issues about Personal Injury and Liability
At the moment, less than 1% of the victims of a dog bite get reported and compensated every year. Although dog bites affect more than 4.5 million Americans annually, only 15,000 to 16,000 victims are paid by insurance companies. Without a dog bite attorney, your chance at getting fair compensation from insurance companies, or the issue of getting any compensation at all, can become compromised.
Dog owners are almost always liable for the damages brought upon by the aggressiveness of their pets. If you are a victim of a dog bite, make sure that you become compensated for the personal injury and other damages caused by the attack. Another important thing to do is to contact a reliable dog bite attorney and get advice on your next legal steps.
At Stipp Law Firm, APC, we have a long track record of defending victims of dog bites. We will do everything to make sure that you know what your rights are and that you are compensated for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation at 760-994-0480.