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Liability of a Dog Bite Injury

Posted by Timothy J. Ryan | Apr 22, 2016 | 0 Comments

 

Dog owners are responsible for the behavior of their pets. It is their duty to ensure that their canine has received proper training and does not pose a threat to human life. Dogs are intellectual and affectionate animals, but negative factors in the environment can alter their mannerism for the worst. Dogs do not bite without reason; they will only strike when they feel insecure, threatened, or intimidated. Nonetheless, dog attacks can be fatal in nature; multiple bites and deep injuries can lead to propagation of infections, painful wounds, permanent disabilities, trauma, and even death. If your dog harms someone, he/she can file a civil lawsuit against you to acquire compensation for the injuries.

Burden of Proof

In order to place liability on the dog owner, the alleged victim needs to prove that the injury was incurred due to their negligence or carelessness. The owner is obliged to keep the dog on a leash or in confinement if tends to be aggressive in the presence of other people. For example, opening the gate while the dog is roaming free can be hazardous for outsiders if it leaves the house. If the plaintiff can provide evidence that the owner knew of its pet's violent tendencies, they may have a strong case. Similar to other personal injury cases, a statute of limitations is applicable to dog bite cases. If the victim does not file the claim within the prescribed time period, he/she may lose the right to demand compensation.

Medical reports and receipts for treating the injury shall further strengthen the plaintiff's claim. Many states have very strict laws against dog attacks, which make the owner financially responsible to make up for the victim's losses, irrespective of who was at fault. On the contrary, every dog owner can utilize a few defenses to defy the accusation or at least reduce the liability. Once an individual's dog has threatened or injured someone, the court will issue orders for special precautions they must exercise. Dog bite cases involving severe or life threatening injuries may require the owner to euthanize the dog. If the owner refuses to cooperate with the court, he/she may face criminal penalties. If the dog kills a human being, the owner could be charged with manslaughter.

Legal Defenses for Dog Owners

The reward received by the plaintiff in dog bite cases depends on the extent of injury and associated medical expenses. The owner might be able to dodge penalties if there was no noticeable harm. If the dog simply chased or knocked down someone in excitement, it might not be fair to blame the owner for the spontaneous events. The defendant can argue that the claimant provoked the dog (via hitting, making strange noise, stepping on its tail, etc.) which motivated it to exhibit slightly aggressive behavior. The dog's attack may be justified if the victim was trespassing, i.e. entering the owner's property without permission or consent. The tables could also be turned if the plaintiff intentionally risked their life by approaching an agitated dog. If the dog owner can establish that that 50% or more of the fault falls on the shoulder of the plaintiff, then he/she does not have to pay for the damages.

 
 
 

About the Author

Timothy J. Ryan

Personal injury attorney Timothy J. Ryan has helped California injury victims recover more than $1 Billion since 1981. Tim is on the board of governors for the Consumer Attorneys of California and received the 2020 award "10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys" for client satisfaction.

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