Legal Options A Dog Owner Has After His/Her Dog Attacks Someone

Law Blog

As the owner of a dog, it is normal for you to panic after your dog attacks someone. After all, the victim could attempt to sue you for any damages the dog caused – both emotionally and physically. The victim could even petition to have your "dangerous dog" put to sleep. The question is – what legal rights do you, the owner of the dog, have in this situation?

Dog Owners Are Not Liable All The Time

While each case will be viewed on an individual basis and every state has different laws regarding dog attacks, there are some situations where the dog owner would not be liable for the attack:

  • The victim provoked the dog prior to the attack
  • The victim knowingly risked being attacked by the dog
  • The victim was trespassing

A dog owner will not be able to use all of these defenses in every state as laws vary upon location. If you own a dog, it is a good idea to be aware of dog biting statutes for your state to know what defenses you can and can't use.

Did The Victim Provoke The Dog?

In most dog bite and dog attack situations, the dog owner will not be held liable if it is decided the victim provoked the dog to attack him/her in some way. Most of the time, it is the victim who has to prove he/she did not provoke the dog into attacking as opposed to the dog owner proving that the provoking did occur.

Did The Victim Knowingly Risk Being Attacked?

A dog owner will not typically be held liable If the victim knowingly increased his/her risk of being attacked. For example, if you have a guest come over and you tell them you have your dog locked up in your bedroom while they are over and the guest ventures into your bedroom and gets attacked, your lawyer can argue the victim put him/herself in the dangerous situation. The same argument can be made if you have your dog secured in a yard with a fence and "beware of dog" signs and someone enters the yard despite the signs.

Did The Victim Trespass?

If the victim had no business being in your yard when he/she was attacked, you may not be liable for the attack. Typically, this applies more to children than adults. A child, for example, who goes into your yard to retrieve his/her ball may not be aware of the dangerous of being in your yard with the dog. With an adult, your lawyer can argue the adult should have known better.

In a large number of dog bite and attack incidents, the victim does hold some of the blame whether he/she wants to admit it or not. If your dog has attacked someone who has the intention of suing, reach out to a personal injury lawyer with dog bite experience. He/she will be able to look at your individual case and make you aware of all the local laws and statutes regarding dog attacks. 

For more information, contact a firm like Hardee and Hardee LLP.


1 July 2016

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