Getting injured in a dog attack can be devastating, whether it is a dog you know or a stray dog one the sidewalk or in a nearby park. I know how distressing a dog bite can be, especially when the animal causes a serious injury. Young children, in particular, can suffer devastating and life-threatening injuries when a dog bites. Indeed, many kids—and adults, too—end up dealing with the initial physical pain of a dog bite and years of emotional injury as a result of disfigurement.
Accordingly, if you or someone you love got bitten by a dog, I know you may be wondering: Who is liable for a dog bite incident? In other words, I know you need to understand whether you can file a claim against the dog owner or another person in order to seek compensation to help pay for your medical bills and other losses. Liability in most dog bite cases is relatively straightforward, but I will tell you more.
In Most Cases, the Dog Owner is Liable
To be clear, most dog bites in Ohio result in the dog owner being liable for injuries. Under Ohio law (Ohio Rev. Code Section 955.28), dog owners are strictly liable for injuries in most cases. What does this mean? In short, if a dog caused your injury, then the owner is liable (unless, of course, you did something to provoke the dog or were trespassing at the time of the dog attack). Although some states have laws that only make a dog owner liable if the owner knows the dog is vicious or knows that the dog has previously bitten a person, Ohio does not require this.
There are a variety of scenarios in which a dog owner can be liable as long as you did not do anything to provoke the dog into an attack and were not trespassing. The following are some examples where a dog owner would almost certainly be liable:
- Dog gets out of a nearby house, and the dog chases and bites a pedestrian on the sidewalk;
- Family dog is bothered by a guest’s perfume in the house and bites the guest;
- Family dog is relaxing in the TV room with a young child, and the young child makes a sudden movement to grab a toy that startles the dog and leads the dog to bite; or
- While walking your dog, you pass by another dog with aggression issues that attempts to attack your pet and bites you in the process.
What Does Provocation Mean in a Dog Bite Case?
What does it mean to provoke a dog such that the owner is not liable? While provocation is not clear cut in all cases, a quick or sudden movement that a person does not intend to provoke a dog will likely not be considered provocation in any circumstance.
In most cases, provoking a dog means that, for example, the person who was bitten attempted to injure the dog in some manner, or attempted to harm the dog’s owner. Usually provocation has to be intentional.
How About Trespassing?
In addition to provoking the dog, the other way a dog owner may be able to avoid liability is if the person bitten was trespassing at the time of the dog attack. Trespassing means that you were unlawfully on the property when the dog attack occurred. Anytime a dog bite occurs on public property, such as in a public park, the dog owner cannot use trespassing as a defense.
Learn More About Filing a Dog Bite Claim
Do you need help filing a dog bite claim? I’ll Make Them Pay!® Call my office today at 877.944.4373 to get started on the claims process.