Owner Liability for Dog Bites or Attacks Lawyers
When Is an Owner Liable for Dog Bites or Attacks?
The laws regarding a dog bite depend on the state where the dog bite occurred. Dog bite laws vary by state, but usually give those injured a legal advantage.
- Most often, dog bites involve strict liability this means a dog owner is responsible for any injury caused by his or her dog biting someone, even if he or she didn't know the animal was dangerous.
- In other cases, an owner will be legally responsible for the harm resulting from a dog bite only when he or she knows or has reason to know of the animal's dangerous propensities - in other words, the owner isn't liable unless he has notice of the dog's tendency to bite or cause injuries.
How is the Owner's Knowledge of the Dog's Dangerous Propensities Proved?
It can be difficult to prove whether or not the owner knew of his or her dog's vicious tendencies. The following are factors which are commonly used to demonstrate this knowledge:
- Previous complaints about the dog
- The owner's own statements or warnings about the dog, including posted signs
- The size and breed of the dog
- Whether or not the dog is kept for guarding and protection purposes
- The tendency to bite or snap
- Fighting with other animals
- The owner generally keeping the dog confined or muzzled
Which Breeds are Considered Most Dangerous?
Sometimes, even when there is no evidence that the owner actually knew the dog had vicious tendencies, he or she may still be held responsible for a bite if the particular breed of dog is known to be dangerous. The breeds generally considered to be most dangerous are:
- Pit Bulls
- Doberman Pinschers
- Great Danes
- Saint Bernards
- German Shepherds
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Siberian Huskies
- Chow Chows
Are there Any Defenses to Dog Bite Claims?
Owners sometimes have defenses when their dogs bite others. These defenses may not apply in strict liability states. Examples include:
- Where the owner warned of the dog's dangerous nature and took appropriate steps to keep the dog away from people, but the injured person ignored the warning
- Where the injured person provoked the dog
- Where the injured person was trespassing on the owner's property
Can Other People Besides the Dog Owner Be Held Responsible?
Animal owners are not the only people who can be held responsible for animal bites. Here are a few common scenarios where someone other than the animal's owner could be held liable for an animal bite:
- Property owners, where they allow a dangerous dog onto their property and it injures someone
- Animal keepers, such as animal sitters, kennels and pounds
- Parents of minors, where the minor's dog injures someone
- Landlords, where they knew or should have known of a tenant's dangerous dog that injures someone
Should I Consult a Lawyer about a Dog Bite?
Dog bites can be very serious and can have serious consequences. Because dog bite laws vary from state to state, you should consult a lawyer with experience in animal or personal injury law if you have been bitten or if your dog has bitten someone else. This attorney can help explore your options, rights, and legal defenses.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 02-14-2014 03:53 PM PST
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