Liability for Dog Bites


About 4.7 million people, or two% of the American population, are bitten by a dog each year and suffer dog bite injuries . Among those who get bitten, about ten to twenty die from serious dog bite injuries and approximately 800,000 required medical care. The average hospital stay was three and a half days. Most dog bite victims are children.

An experienced dog bite lawyer can make sure you are fully compensated for your dog bite injuries.  In the case of a child who has been injured, the compensation may increase because of the possibility of long-term medical expenses and emotional trauma.

Children are more susceptible to dog bites because they are smaller, less familiar with dogs and their habits, and less able to protect themselves. Their small height also makes them more likely to receive dog bite injuries to the face, which are not only traumatic, but may result in life-long scars.

Adults are obviously not immune to dog bites. The likelihood of being injured by a dog bite increases when a dog...

  • Is establishing dominance
  • Feels threatened
  • Is protective of the owner
  • Is surprised
  • Is protecting its territory

Male dogs are more likely to bite, especially if a female dog in heat is in the vicinity. Unaltered dogs and those chained up or mistreated are also more likely to bite. And although all breeds can potentially inflict a dog bite injury, about half of fatal dog bite injuries are attributable to the likes of Rottweilers and Pit Bulls.

Dog bite injuries may include puncture wounds and lacerations, broken bones, disfiguring facial injuries and death, and often involve substantial medical bills. But the victim may also experience mental pain and anguish.

To reduce the potential for receiving a dog bite injury, become familiar with dog behavior that may signal a higher proclivity for biting and teach your children to recognize such behavior. Avoid approaching dogs that are unfamiliar, chained up, eating, sleeping or playing with toys. Dog owners also should, and in some cases are required to, take steps to minimize the potential for dog bite injury. These include:

  • Spay or neuter the dog
  • Socialize the dog as early as possible
  • Supervise and treat the dog humanely
  • Be extra vigilant in new environments and around children
  • Train the dog
  • Follow leash and confinement laws

If you or a loved one is bitten by a dog, you should first clean the wounds and seek medical attention and advice with regard to treatment for potential rabies. If you do not know the dog or its owner, contact your local animal control board.

You have the legal right to seek compensation for dog bite injuries suffered by you or your loved ones. In some cases, the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy will pay damages. An experienced dog bite lawyer, however, may be able to recover additional compensation.

A dog bite victim may recover compensation from the person whose negligence resulted in the dog bite, someone who knowingly kept a dog with a history of aggression, or someone in violation of animal confinement and restraint laws. Dog bite liability laws vary from State to State, but most place responsibility for a dog bite on the dog’s owner. In some cases, previous owners of the dog, landlords and daycare centers can be held at least partially responsible for a dog bite injury.

The degree of liability in a dog bite case may be determined by the dog’s prior behavior, whether there was a “beware of dog” sign, or if the dog was provoked. Some States impose liability if the dog owner was aware, or should have been aware that his or her dog is aggressive. In these States, the first bite is said to be “free” since the owner could not have known of the dog’s propensity to do so.

There may also be time limits by which you must commence a dog bite suit. For this reason, if you or a loved one was injured by a dog bite, it is important that you contact an experienced dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.

Click here for more information on State dog bite laws in the U.S.A.

For more information, see Questions About Dog Bites.

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