Dogs may be man’s best friend, but each year, thousands of people are bitten or mauled by dogs. In many cases, negligent owners are to blame for dog attacks. Understanding the liability for owners, as well as victims’ rights, can ease some of the stress of suffering a dog attack.
Owner Liability for Injuries Caused by their Dogs
Many states operate under strict liability rules concerning dog attacks. In such instances, owners are liable for dog attacks whether or not they have been negligent. Similarly, many jurisdictions operate under “one bite” rules that hold dog owners liable if victims can prove that the owner knew or should have known that the dog was prone to attack. On the other hand, owners can often escape liability if they can prove the victim provoked the dog to attack or was trespassing on the owner’s property at the time of the attack. Criminal liability is uncommon, but if a dog seriously injures or kills someone, and the owner knew the dog had vicious tendencies, manslaughter charges could result.
Victim Rights in Dog Attacks
Unless you have provoked the dog into attacking you, or you were trespassing on the dog owner’s property, you are entitled to compensation for an attack by a dog. Just as in any personal injury claim, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. You may also be eligible to collect for time lost from work and reimbursement for your legal fees in pursuing your case. If you can prove the attack was deliberate, you may be entitled to further damages.
Steps to Take for Victims of Dog Bites
If you are the victim of a dog bite, there are steps you should take to protect your rights. Make a note of the time and place of the incident. If there are witnesses, try to get their contact information. File a police report on the scene or as soon as possible. Take photos of any injuries you suffered, noting whether they were the direct responsibility of a dog attack, or whether you incurred the injury as a result of falling while attempting to escape a dog attack.
Ask the owner about any insurance policies he or she has. If the owner claims to have no insurance, don’t assume that you have no recourse. You may be able to collect damages from the owner’s personal assets, including bank accounts. You should also attempt to learn whether the dog has attacked other victims. If so, you may collect additional damages by claiming the owner knew that his or her dog was vicious and did nothing to prevent attacks.
If you have been attacked by a dog, give us a call. We can ensure that your rights are protected.