Dog Bite Liability

Man’s best friends offer us emotional support, loyalty and protection. However, the protection and safety they provide can sometimes backfire and result in the injury of someone else. If a dog acts out and bites someone, the dog owner could be held liable for the medical expenses of the injured party.

Continue reading this blog to learn more about dog owner liability and lawsuit loans.

Your State’s Dog Bite Laws

Every state has specific and detailed legal guidelines for pet owner liability when it comes to dog bites.

These laws vary depending on your state, so it is best to discuss your state’s laws with an experienced personal injury attorney. Regardless, there are three types of laws that help determine your liability for the injuries and other damages caused by your dog:

  • strict liability laws
  • “one bite” laws
  • negligence

Strict Liability Dog Attacks

Many states, such as California, Michigan and New Jersey, have strict liability laws in place when dog bites occur. These strict liability laws mean that the dog owner is held liable for almost every injury their dog causes. It is important to note that strict liability laws even apply to owners who did everything they could to restrain the dog and warn the public.

However, there are a few exceptions to strict liability. The owner is usually not liable if the following occurs:

  • Someone trespasses on your property without your knowledge or consent.
  • Someone acts aggressively towards the dog by hitting it or provoking it.

“One Bite” Laws

In more than a dozen other states, laws are in place that protect pet owner liability for injuries caused by their dog’s first bite. These laws assume the pet owner had no way of knowing their dog has aggressive tendencies, and allow them to be off the hook for the first incident. If other incidents occur, the pet owner is then subject to liability.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your dog bites someone near your home for the first time ever. Then, your dog bites another person a week later. In a state that has a “one bite” law, you may be off the hook for the first victim’s injuries. However, you will probably be liable for the second victim’s injuries. Exceptions for this include the following:

  • If you had reason to believe (or knew) that your dog has aggressive tendencies, the “one bite” rule does not protect you.
  • If you violated another law, such as a leash law, the court will see your actions as negligent and ultimately hold you liable for the victim’s injuries.

Dog Owner Negligence

Every state requires people to create a reasonably safe environment for others. Through failing to do so, you are deemed legally responsible for any injuries you end up causing.

Individuals are legally bound to a certain level of duty of care to others in certain situations. By breaching that duty of care, you are creating a hazardous environment that could subject someone else to injury. If your breach of duty of care results in someone’s injury, you could be legally responsible for the injured party’s damages.

In relation to dog bites, the owner might be considered negligent if the following occurs:

  • They disobey the local leash laws
  • The owner is aware of their dog’s hyper tendencies, yet does not take reasonable steps to prevent their contact with others (such as keeping the dog in a fenced yard), resulting in someone’s injury.
  • They have inadequate restraints (such as fences, ropes and chains), which results in the dog breaking free and injuring someone.

Regardless of a “strict liability” or “one bite” state, negligence usually automatically holds a pet owner liable in the case of a dog bite.

Protect Yourself as a Dog Owner

As a dog owner, it is important to take the necessary precautions in order to prevent your dog from injuring anyone. Here are a few steps that can protect others, and in turn, yourself and your dog:

  • Place warning signs up on the fence, warning visitors about the presence of the dog.
  • Ensure the fencing is secure, and tall enough that the dog can’t jump over.
  • Always keep your dog on a leash while out in public, regardless of what your state laws require.

Dog Bite Attack Insurance

If you are a dog owner, it is crucial to talk to your insurance company to see if your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy covers dog bites.

Insurance companies pay millions of dollars each year to defend dog bite claims made under homeowner’s insurance policies, which financially protects you if someone files a lawsuit claiming your dog bit them.

The insurance company defends the policy on your behalf and pay the dog bite victim’s damages. if the defendant wins the lawsuit. These damages include medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering.

However, insurance companies can refuse to cover certain “dangerous” breeds of dogs. Insurance companies can also increase your insurance premiums or cancel your policy if your dog bites someone. Note that can do this only after they have defended any claim against you.

Dog Bite Loans From Uplift Legal Funding

Are you the victim of a dog bite? Consider filing a lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve. Uplift Legal Funding offers dog bite lawsuit loans to plaintiffs nationwide to help ease the financial strain until settlement arrives. Learn more by giving us a call at (800) 385-3660 or apply online.