The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that despite rules and restrictions relating to the ownership of dogs, pet dogs bite about 4.5 million people each year. State dog bite laws vary, yet in many cases, you are legally responsible for any injuries your dog causes.
Besides state laws, many local governments have ordinances for controlling dogs. Because the law determines in what situations you can be sued if your dog injures someone, you need to know what the dog bite laws are where you live.
Dog Bite Laws Based on Owner Negligence
Most states hold you responsible if you’ve been negligent and your dog bites someone. An example would be letting your dog run free even though the community where you live has a law requiring that dogs be leashed and not allowed to roam in public.
You are also responsible if you know your dog is easily excitable and you fail to keep the pet away from visitors or others, such as contractors, plumbers, or mail carriers, coming on your property or to your home. In a case like this, if your dog bites someone, the law considers that you failed to take the necessary steps to protect another person from injury.
How the Law Works in Strict Liability States
In many states, strict liability laws make you responsible if your dog bites someone. It doesn’t matter whether you restrained your dog on a lease or put up fencing to keep your dog within the boundaries of your own property. Posting signs warning of the presence of a dog on the property may not even help.
The law may not hold you liable if your dog bites a trespasser who comes on your property without your permission. You may also have a reasonable defense if someone teases or hurts your dog, and your pet reacts by biting. Even a normally calm and friendly pet may bite when threatened, frightened, or hurt.
However, it’s up to you to prove that something happened to make your dog bite. If you fail to prove that your dog was provoked into behaving aggressively, the plaintiff may have a case.
One-Bite Law: A Saving Grace?
Some states have a one-bite law, which means you won’t be liable for injuries if it’s the first time your dog bites a person. But there are exceptions to the rule.
The one-bite law may not apply if you have reason to believe your pet might be capable of biting. You could find yourself in trouble if your dog has a habit of snapping at people, or you have to warn others that your dog has a nasty disposition. If your pet eventually bites someone, the one-bite rule may not allow that free bite. You may also be held legally responsible if the law feels you were negligent, or you violated a local leash law.
The law assumes that after the first bite, you know your dog is capable of hurting someone. Therefore, you will be responsible and might need a lawyer from a site like http://asmlegal.net/ if your dog bites another person later on.
How Dog Bite Laws Apply to Veterinarians
Dog bite laws don’t usually apply to veterinarians who are bitten. The law assumes that veterinarians and veterinarian assistants know the risks associated with the job and take the necessary precautions. Since it isn’t uncommon for a pet to react defensively when receiving medical treatment, veterinarians are expected to know what to do to control the behavior of dogs in their care.