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If you’re worried about your dog biting a guest, trespasser, or salesperson while on your property, it’s important to know your rights within the law.
In order to avoid an embarrassing lawsuit, the costs associated with a court case, and the safety of your dog and your loved ones, we’ll help you understand what steps you need to take in a dog bite incident.
What Do I Do If My Dog Bites Someone?
If someone has been bitten by a dog or suffered an injury from any animal attack, the first thing you should do is obtain medical care. Always consult a physician immediately after an animal attack, as many wild and domestic animals can pass on diseases or infections to people.
In general, victims of dog bites and animal attacks do not need to prove negligence or intent, but damages may increase in a court case if there was proof of intent to injure by the owner. If your dog bites someone on your property, make sure to be prepared with a list of your dog’s vaccinations and vet records.
In order to prove or deny intent, submitting evidence such as medical documentation, if the dog follows the one-bite rule, and citing the location of the animal attack will help your case in a court of law. Document whatever you can, and make sure that your records are in order.
What is Premises Liability in an Animal Attack or Dog Bite Case?
Premises liability implies that a standard of care exists between a property owner and their guests based on a reasonable expectation that they wouldn’t be injured when they enter the premises.
As a dog owner, you owe a certain standard of care to anyone on your property, which includes putting up warning signs, keeping potentially dangerous dogs in secured areas, and informing guests of a dog that has already been tagged with the one bite rule.
Guests to Your Home
Invited friends and guests are lawfully owed a reasonable duty when they step foot on your property. If they are injured due to a dog bite or animal attack, and can prove your negligence or failure to use reasonable care in restraining your dog, they can sue for damages under state law.
Trespassers on Your Property
Some state laws allow trespassers to bring a lawsuit if they are bitten by your dog on your property. While it depends on which state you reside in, the statutes in place, and the protection of owner’s liability, it’s possible that a trespasser has a case, even if they are attempting to commit a burglary or other criminal offense.
If the state’s laws allow, some trespassers can claim negligence theory of liability in a lawsuit, especially in cases where dogs have already been identified as breaking the one bite rule. ( This is not true in Ohio. If you are bitten by a dog while committing a crime you do not have a case.)
If Your Dog has a Reputation for Being Dangerous
If your dog has a history of biting people in the past, your pet is considered dangerous under the law. If your dog bites someone else on your property, you may be held strictly liable if you have not shown any warning sign or indication that there is a dangerous dog on your property. Repeat offenders are labeled as violators of the one bite rule, which shows that owners knew of the danger because it’s happened in the past.
As a concerned homeowner, you may want to consider homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to add coverage based on a dog’s one bite rule. Most policies offer coverage in the event you are sued due to an animal attack or dog bite on your property, which can help you financially if you’re held liable and lose a lawsuit to the injured party.
What Damages Can A Victim of a Dog Bite or Animal Attack Recover?
Dog bite victims can have several expenses and losses incurred after an animal attack. Some of the most common expenses include:
- Medical expenses, medications, hospital admittance, and plastic surgery
- Physical therapy and psychiatric care
- Lost wages for work time lost during recovery and medical treatment
- General pain and suffering
- Property damages
If the dog has a history of biting or attacking others, also known as the one bite rule, the victim may be eligible to receive double or triple the compensatory damages. Punitive damages may also be awarded as a punishment against the dog’s owner.
If injuries are relatively minor and compensatory damages are low, a court case may not be the best option for victims. Many people choose to settle a dog bite case before heading to court. The advantages of receiving a quick settlement include:
- Receiving compensation faster
- Preventing an unpredictable decision
- Avoiding additional dog bite lawyer’s fees
- Removing multiple court proceedings and appearances
Consulting a dog bite lawyer to assess fees, discuss the case, and evaluate damages can help victims and defendants see if they’re headed for trial, or if a reasonable settlement can be reached. By evaluating all of the options available, you can decide what’s best for you, your family, and anyone else affected by the animal attack.
Consider Hiring a Dog Bite Lawyer
Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz L.P.A. is a full-service personal injury law firm. Our attorneys are the kinds of dog bite lawyers you need to undertake complex cases in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. With our high rate of successful personal injury cases, our attorneys are confident in getting the best possible compensation for our clients.
Our attorneys understand how important it is to file your case correctly, and are dedicated to helping you by answering any questions you have, explaining your rights under the law, and providing a plan of action if your case is headed to trial. Contact us today to see how we can help.