If a dog has ever maliciously attacked you, you experience a severe trauma. You may need to employ a Personal Injury Lawyer in order to get your medical bills paid and to compensate you for pain, suffering and trauma, and depending on the extent of the injury, loss of work, etc. Mental affects, that are fear of dogs, can last for years. If the attack is unprovoked, your trauma is compounded.
Some states have adopted a One-Bite rule which essentially states that if the owner knew or had reason to know that the dog was likely to cause injury, due to a previous episode, then that owner could be liable for personal injuries.
If the State’s statute covers only dog bites, and the dog pushes a person down, then other rules will apply. Still liability usually remains with the owner of the dog, unless the dog is proven to be “provoked.”
If you provoke a dog into a biting situation, the rules change also. If you knowingly and voluntarily risked injury, then the dog’s owner’s liability can become in question.
States having a One Bite rule include Alaska, Mississippi, Oregon, Arkansas, Nevada, South Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Georgia, New York, Vermont, Idaho, North Carolina, Virginia, Kansas, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Maryland,
A person who owns a dog can assume until something happens to indicate the contrary, that the animal is not dangerous. A dog owner who knows that the dog poses a serious threat must act to prevent any foreseeable injury.
The Common law rule of “one-bite” is somewhat misleading. It would tend to indicate that all dogs get a free bite, and then the notice would take effect. Bites do indicate danger, but less violent behavior such as growling or snapping at people should alert the owner of the dog’s aggressive propensity. In this instance, the owner could be liable for a “first-bite” situation.
A test for owner liability would be the same for a bite as for a knockdown situation. Did the owner know of the dog’s aggressive propensity? If so, he is liable for any resulting injury.
If the owner denies responsibility, and the court is asked to decide the dispute, the judge or jury will need to decide if the owner should have known the likelihood of the dog causing harm to someone else. Factors that are taken into account include; Previous Bites; (puppies who nip a person may not count); Barking at strangers; Threatening people by growling or snapping who approach it in public (this action should put the owner on notice); Exuberant jumping on people could place the owner in liability, as the owner knew the dog behaved this way; reports that the dog has threatened people would surely place the owner in jeopardy of liability; Fighting with other dogs is most likely not enough to establish owner liability. Dogs have their own societal rules, and usually courts don’t interfere.
If a dog has been trained to “fight” then the owner will have known of the propensity for violence; Breeds of a dog are not usually considered, but in some places, law defines pit bulls and other types of aggressive breeds as dangerous breeds.
Kenneth G. Marks has been practicing personal injury law since he was admitted to the California Bar in 1981.www.KmarksLaw.com