If you or someone you know has experienced a dog bite, it is important to know what state laws can protect you. With that said, different states will have different levels of liabilities for dog owners. Whatever state you live in, you could receive financial compensation for the injuries you received that resulted from the attack.

Dog bites can be dangerous. From the attack, a person can be affected in numerous ways. This can include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Anxiety resulting from the attack
  • Infection resulting from the bite
  • Other bodily injuries resulting from the attack

Whether or not the dog bite resulted in an open wound, it is important to understand that there could be serious repercussions you can face resulting from the attack. While every person’s case will be different, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney who has experience in dog-bite cases. A qualified attorney will guide you through the claims process as well as help you strategize for a strong case. Dog bites can leave any person with lifelong consequences, do not allow those consequences be a detrimental part of your life: consult with a specialized attorney. 

Understanding When a Dog Owner Could Be Held Responsible for the Attack

Despite the state or region in which the dog bite occurred, it is important to understand the laws that pertain to that specific region. Depending on the region, a pet owner can have either civil or criminal responsibility when it comes to his or her pet. At times, the pet owner can face both forms of liability. When studying the appropriate laws, consider speaking to an attorney who has experience in the matter. Many laws can be ambiguous and often confusing. If you are unsure if you have a valid claim, a knowledgeable attorney can help you understand if you have a valid claim under the current law.

Ever-Changing Laws

Studying applicable dog-bite laws can be challenging. Many state laws are vague in language and can also be difficult to understand. Similarly important, many state laws not only change but they are also modified frequently. Some of the most important laws to consider when researching include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Laws concerning time restrictions to file for the claim known as a statute of limitations
    • For example, you can view the State of California’s statute of limitations by visiting the state court’s website.
  • Laws pertaining to the dog’s licensing and vaccinations
  • Laws pertaining to the owner’s liability
  • Guidelines ensuring the appropriate fencing or safekeeping of the animal
  • “No-leash” zones
  • Laws pertaining to your liability as a victim

For a complete guide to your local laws, visit your state’s website. For example, under the State of California, you can easily navigate state laws by using the search tool.

When a Dog Owner Could Face Strict Liability for His or Her Pet

There are certain states that have strict liability laws in regard to dog bite injuries. The State of California is one state that enforces this law and therefore holds dog owners liable for most bites or attacks committed by their pet. When a victim is attempting to file a claim for the damages he or she sustained as a result of the injury, the owner cannot argue that he or she did not know that the animal had a history of aggression. Further, the owner cannot argue that the he or she had no knowledge of the dog being dangerous and that the owner took special precaution to ensure that the animal did not injury anyone.

As previously mentioned, these strict liability laws will vary depending on the state in which the incident took place. Additionally, these strict liability laws also have certain restrictions. Certain states that that have allowed for strict liability laws have also ensured that a dog owner would be held responsible only if the victim:

  • Was actually bitten by the dog in question
  • Was in a public space
  • Was legally in a private place as by permission of the property owner or as a welcomed visitor
    • Many states have included state workers under this regulation such as mail carriers

Defining a Dog Bite

As previously stated, laws pertaining to dog bites can be very ambiguous. For examples, some regions will allow the following scenario:

  • In the event that a dog has grabbed a victim with its jaws but has not actually broken the skin, this is still considered a dog bite.
  • In the event that a person suffered injuries of a fall that was caused by an animal biting on to the victim’s clothes, the dog owner can still be held liable for the animal’s attack.

Since every dog-bite case will be different in accordance to its facts, it is important to speak to a proficient attorney. An attorney who has the appropriate experience can help you determine if you have a valid case in your specific state.

Negligent Dog Owners

It is important to understand that many strict liability laws will not help individuals who have suffered injuries that were not a direct result of a dog bite. For example, if a person jogging down a street was startled by a growling dog, which then resulted on the person jumping into oncoming traffic, the owner will likely not be held liable for the accident. This is because there was not actual bite from the animal.

While this is true in many states, there are other avenues in which a person can still file for a claim in attempt to receive restitution for his or her injuries. For instance, a person can claim that the injury sustained was due to the pet owner’s negligence. A negligent pet owner can be any of the following:

  • A pet owner who failed to meet the appropriate laws regarding fencing to ensure that the pet does not leave his or her property
  • A pet owner who did not legally have his or her pet on a leash

Obtain the Support of a Qualified Attorney

When it comes to dog-bite laws, the laws will be very different depending on what state the incident occurred. By speaking to a qualified personal injury attorney, you can ensure that you have a valid claim. Dog bites can leave any person with devastating consequences. If you have been bitten by a dog, speak to an attorney who can help you receive compensation for the injuries you sustained resulting from the attack.

If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog, there may be an opportunity to seek compensation. The injuries sustained from a dog-bite injury can leave you with lifelong consequences. It is vital to obtain the support of a qualified attorney who can champion for your rights.