Dog bites pose a significant issue in the United States. It was estimated that there are about 4.5 million dog bites in the country each year, with nearly 800,000 of those bites requiring medical attention. Among children under 14 years old, dog bites rank as the ninth leading cause of injury-related deaths.
If you are a dog owner, it’s crucial to understand your legal responsibility if your dog happens to bite someone. In most states, dog owners are fully responsible for injuries caused by their dogs, regardless of whether the owner was aware of the dog’s potential danger or whether the victim was on the owner’s property without permission.
This means that if your dog bites someone, you might be held accountable for the injured person’s medical costs, any income they lost due to the injury, their pain and suffering, and other related damages. In some instances, you could even face criminal charges.
Dog Bite Responsibility on Your Property
As mentioned earlier, in most states, dog owners are fully responsible for injuries caused by their dogs. This implies that the injured party doesn’t need to prove that the owner was careless or that the owner knew the dog was a threat in order to claim compensation.
There are a few exceptions to this regulation. For instance, in certain states, the injured party might not be able to claim damages if they were trespassing on the owner’s property or if they provoked the dog. However, these exceptions are limited and rarely successful.
It’s important to understand that dog bite liability applies even if your dog has never bitten anyone before. If your dog bites someone for the first time, you could still be held responsible for the injuries caused to the victim.
Possible Outcomes of a Dog Bite Incident
A dog bite can lead to severe consequences for both the victim and the owner.
For the victim, a dog bite can cause significant injuries, like deep wounds, cuts, infections, and nerve harm. Especially in children, it can also lead to emotional distress. In the event that you have been bitten by a dog, you may contact a dog bite lawyer to learn about the possible courses of action you could take.
For the owner, a dog bite incident can result in financial setbacks, such as hefty medical expenses, legal costs, and increased insurance payments. In some cases, the dog might be put to sleep, depending on the seriousness of the bite and the dog’s past behavior.
Preventing Dog Bites on Your Property
There are several measures you can take to prevent dog bites on your property, including:
- Teaching your dog to be well-behaved and sociable.
- Keeping a close eye on your dog when it’s around children and others.
- Using a leash when you’re out in public places.
- Putting up a “Beware of Dog” sign on your premises.
- Having your dog spayed or neutered.
- Avoiding specific dog breeds that are known to have a higher tendency to bite.
What to Do After a Dog Bite Incident on Your Property
In the unfortunate event of a dog bite on your property, it’s crucial to follow these steps:
- Make sure the victim receives medical attention, even if the bite seems small.
- Inform animal control about the incident.
- Get in touch with your insurance company.
- Safely confine your dog.
- Fully cooperate with any investigation.
While dog bites present a serious concern, there are several proactive measures that dog owners can take to reduce the likelihood of such incidents. In the event of a dog bite, it’s essential to take the necessary actions to ensure the well-being of the victim and to minimize any potential repercussions for yourself and your pet.