If you have been bitten by a dog, or if you are the owner of a dog who has bitten someone, a personal injury lawsuit may be imminent. The following are 3 good things to know when preparing for a dog bite case.
1. "One Bite" Rule
In jurisdictions that follow the "one bite" rule, dog owners are only liable for injuries caused by their pets if they knew or reasonably should have known that their dog was particularly dangerous. The rule gets its name from the fact that if a dog has previously bitten someone, the owner should know that the dog is dangerous and take reasonable steps to prevent bites from happening again.
However, the "one bite" rule also encompasses other factors that may prove that an owner should have known his or her dog was unreasonably dangerous. In determining if an owner is liable for injuries according to the "one bite" rule, courts look at factors such as the dog's breed, a dog's training, and whether the dog has a history of fighting other dogs or being abnormally aggressive towards strangers. Based on these factors, a court may find a dog owner liable for injuries caused by the pet if the owner should have known the pet was dangerous.
Just like in many other personal injury cases, if the owner of the dog was negligent in controlling the pet, he or she may be liable for any injuries that the dog causes. For an extreme example, imagine that an owner forgot to feed his dog for days and then left the dog unchained in the backyard with the fence open. Later the owner ordered some pizza, but when the deliveryman came, the dog attacked. Because of the owner's negligence in not feeding the dog and leaving the dog loose, he may be liable for injuries caused to the pizza delivery man.
If a dog owner is sued because his dog bit another person, the owner has several possible defenses. Many of these defenses are based on the actions of the injured person. For example, if the injured person is doing something illegal, such as trespassing, when he or she is bitten, the owner may be found not liable. Similarly, if the injured party provoked the dog, causing it to attack, then the owner will likely not be found liable.
Consult with an attorney like Norris, Gary G. Attorney and check your local laws to determine what standards govern dog bite liability in your state. If you have been sued as a dog owner, do not forget the possible defenses that are available to you.
After I got into an accident a few years ago, I realized that I needed to hire an attorney, and fast. I didn't know how to proceed through the course of the investigation by my insurance company, so I searched the area for a personal injury lawyer who could help. I was really impressed with how intelligent my lawyer was and how hard he worked to make things right with my case. After a few months, my lawsuit was settled, and I really felt like I couldn't have done it without him. This blog is all about understanding personal injury law and the benefits of working with a lawyer.