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Dogs are referred to as “man’s best friend” for good reason. Dogs can provide years of fun and companionship. But even the friendliest dogs are capable of biting and hurting someone. Although many dog bites do not require medical attention, some attacks can be severe. Thankfully, victims of dog bite attacks have legal rights that may allow the victim to pursue compensation from a dog bite injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a dog bite accident and are interested in filing a claim, or to learn more about the rights and remedies that may be available to you, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our experienced dog bite lawyers.
DOG BITE STATISTICS
- Over people are bitten by dogs every year
- Approximately 81% of dog bites result in no injury or minor injury that does not require hospitalization
- In 2019, there were 48 reported dog bite fatalities in the United States
- Most dog attacks involve dogs that have not been spayed or neutered
DOG BITE LAWS VARY BY STATE
Each state has its own unique set of dog bite laws. Some states have dog bite statutes dedicated to governing dog bite accidents. Other states rely on the courts to set dog bite laws.
The rights and remedies that may be available to a dog bite victim significantly depend on the state in which the accident occurred. In many states, the dog’s owner can be held strictly liable for a dog bite attack. Strict liability renders the at-fault party responsible for injuries resulting from the attack even if the person did not act with fault or negligence. Examples of states that have some form of strict liability dog bite laws include:
However, not all states have strict liability laws for dog bite attacks. In these states, the victim must establish either that the dog’s owner was negligent or that the dog’s owner was aware of the animal’s violent tendencies. Examples of states that follow this standard include:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
WHO CAN BE HELD LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR A DOG BITE INJURY?
One of the most important questions following a dog bite attack is whether anybody can be held liable for the attack. If so, the victim may be able to file a claim against the at-fault party to recover compensation from dog bite injury for costs incurred as a result of the accident.
In most dog bite cases, the at-fault party is the dog’s owner. Dog owners have a duty to use reasonable care in handling their pets. This means that the dog owner must take the necessary precautions to ensure that his or her pet does not cause harm to someone else. If a dog owner breaches this duty by failing to properly supervise their dog, the owner may be held liable if the dog bites and injures another person.
However, other parties besides the dog’s owner may also be responsible for a dog bite attack. These cases typically involve the dog being under someone else’s care or supervision. For example, a doggy daycare, dog-sitter, or dog walker may be held legally accountable for a dog bite attack if they negligently supervised the animal. Homeowner’s associations or landlords may also be liable if they failed to enforce leash regulations.
The victim of a dog bite attack should carefully analyze the situation before deciding whether legal action should be pursued and who it may be pursued against. Consulting with an experienced dog bite attorney may help you better understand what rights you may have.
UNDERSTANDING DOG BITE COMPENSATION
The kinds of compensation from dog bite injury that may be available to a dog bite victim fall into two general categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are the quantifiable costs incurred by a dog bite victim following a dog attack. These costs may arise due to things such and doctor’s appointments and missed time from work. More specifically, the types of economic damages in a dog bite lawsuit may include:
- Present and future medical bills
- Present and future pharmacy bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost income and wages
- Future lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
Non-economic damages are the intangible losses suffered by the victim of a dog bite attack. Non-economic damages, such as loss of enjoyment of life, cannot be easily quantified. Rather, a victim’s non-economic damages are typically evaluated by the jury in a lawsuit. Types of non-economic damages in a dog bite lawsuit may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
YOUR CONDUCT CAN AFFECT YOUR COMPENSATION
The amount and types of compensation from dog bite injury that may be available to the victim of a dog attack may be impacted by the victim’s conduct leading up to the attack. In other words, if the victim was partially at fault for the attack occurring in the first place, the victim’s damages may be reduced. Listed below are several examples of conduct that may reduce a dog bite victim’s compensation.
Provoking the Dog
In many states, provocation of the animal is a defense to dog bite liability. In other words, the at-fault party (typically the dog’s owner) may be able to avoid some or all liability for a dog bite attack if the at-fault party can prove that the victim provoked the dog. Examples of provocation include taunting a dog, hitting a dog, chasing a dog, and aggressively playing with a dog.
Knowledge of the Dog’s Violent Tendencies
In some states, liability for a dog bite attack may not be imposed, or the damages available to the victim may be reduced if the at-fault party can establish that the victim knew or should have known of the dog’s violent nature before the attack occurred. For example, if the victim ignored a “Beware of Dog” sign or a “Do Not Pet” sign, a court may find the victim partially at-fault and reduce the amount of damages accordingly.
Trespassing is also a common defense to dog bite claims. This is a valid defense because property owners do not have a duty to make their premises safe for individuals who are on the property without permission. Thus, many states will not impose liability on a dog bite owner in cases where the dog attacks a trespasser.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS FOR A DOG BITE INJURY CLAIM
A dog bite victim wishing to file a claim must do so within the legal time limit, or the “statute of limitations.” Failure to take appropriate action within the statute of limitations may mean that the victim has forfeited some or all of his or her legal rights.
Statutes of limitations for dog bite claims vary by state. Some states, such as Arizona, Colorado, and Texas, have a two-year statute of limitations. Other states, such as New Mexico, North Carolina, and South Carolina, have a three-year statute of limitations. Other states may have longer or shorter statute of limitations. Under certain, limited circumstances, the statute of limitations may be extended, or “tolled,” beyond the typical limit. Such cases typically involve injury to minors.
Because the statute of limitations is a crucial part of any dog bite claim, it is important that you are fully aware of all relevant dates pertaining to your claim. A quick consultation with an experienced dog bite attorney may put you in a better position to ensure that a claim is timely and properly filed.
LET ZINDA LAW GROUP’S DOG BITE ATTORNEYS FIGHT FOR YOU
At Zinda Law Group, our personal injury attorneys have years of experience negotiating dog bite claims on our clients’ behalf. From the initial consultation to the disposition of the case, our team strives to handle your claim as if it were our own. We look forward to fighting for your rights while you focus on getting well.
Zinda Law Group has access to a broad range of resources to help strengthen your claim. For example, we may help track down witnesses and parties with relevant knowledge of the accident, conduct interviews, hire expert witnesses, and use state-of-the-art technology.
Zinda Law Group also believes that an injury victim should never have to worry about being able to afford legal representation. That is why we offer free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we win your case. That's our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.