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Dog Bite


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In many dog bite situations, the victim has a legal right to pursue damages from the dog’s owner. Depending on the situation and seriousness of the injury, the victim may recover damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages.

Laws regarding dog bites differ from state to state. An attorney familiar with dog bite laws can determine if someone can be held liable for the injury. In many cases, a state’s dog bite laws impose “strict liability” on the attacking dog’s owner. This means that the owner is responsible for injuries inflicted by the dog regardless of whether the owner was at fault.

Other states allow a dog “one free bite.” That is, if a dog bites a person once, then the owner is put on notice that the dog has a propensity to bite and, therefore, the owner likely will be held liable if the dog bites a second time.

In most cases, however, the dog owner’s knowledge is a key issue, along with where the bite occurred and whether the dog was provoked. Because of these factors, an attorney who handles dog bite cases can decide if filing suit is feasible.

Laws Protecting Dog Owners

The owner of a dog involved in a dog bite can be protected from claims brought against him or her. Situations that could exclude a victim from recovering damages from a dog owner are:

  • The owner proves that the victim provoked the dog, resulting in a bite.
  • The victim was trespassing on the owner’s property.
  • The owner took appropriate measures to warn others about the dangerous behavior of the dog and the victim ignored the warning. This could involve a person ignoring a posted “beware of dog” sign.

Last update: Sept. 25, 2008

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