Every year, tens of thousands of people are bitten by dogs in Ohio. In fact, Cleveland ranked fourth in dogs attacking mail carriers. Even though we love our pets, owners have to understand that nearly all dogs have potential to inflict serious harm—and if they do, they might be liable for any injuries.
However, no one can watch a dog 24/7. When someone is away from home for large stretches at a time, they might hire a dogsitter or dog walker to come take care of their canine companion. What happens if the dog attacks you when the owner isn’t around? Is the owner liable for the victim’s injuries, or is the dogsitter responsible?
Strict liability dog bite laws
Ohio state has strict liability laws for dog bites: unlike some states, a dog doesn’t get a “free bite,” where that first bite incident is considered notice of a problem. Instead, the owner, keeper or harborer is liable for any injuries, property damage or death that may result from their dog’s bite. The exception is if the victim was committing a criminal offense (such as breaking into a home or trespassing) at the time.
Once a dog has bitten someone, they must be registered as a “dangerous dog,” which subjects them to certain restrictions and requirements. If a person is convicted of failing to control their dog three times, they’ll need to get liability insurance.
Are dogsitters and dog walkers liable for bites on their watch?
Ohio Revised Code Section 955.28 is clear on who is responsible for a dog: liability falls to the “owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog.” Therefore, liability hinges on whether a person qualifies under one of those three definitions at the time of the attack.
The owner is the legal owner of the dog, of course, but “keeper” and “harborer” aren’t quite as intuitive. “Keeper” means someone who has temporary control over the dog, such as a dogsitter or dog walker. “Harborer” means someone who controls the dog’s home, even if they’re not the legal owner. For example, if you rent a room in your home to a friend and their dog, you’re harboring the dog.
To find out who’s liable in one of these scenarios, it’s usually best to talk to an attorney. Knowing who to hold responsible is important in getting the compensation you deserve. Dog attacks can cause devastating injuries, so don’t hesitate to call a personal injury lawyer.
Contact an Ohio dog bite attorney today
Not sure who’s responsible for your dog bite injuries? Call me at 877.483.2298 and tell me what happened. I’ll let you know what your legal options are—and when we find out who was responsible for the dog at the time, I’ll Make Them Pay!®