Dog Owners’ Liability for Bites and Other Injuries: An Overview

Dog Owners' Liability for Bites and Other Injuries

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention over 38% of households in the United States have one or more pet dogs. Dogs can help owners stay active, offer companionship, assist the disabled, and help with stress relief. However, dogs also can cause injuries and property damage.

Misconceptions About Dog Bites

Dog bites can pose a serious health risk to society at large with over 4.5 million people being bitten each year. Almost half of those bites happen to children and more than 800,000 individuals need medical attention for their injuries. About one-fifth of individuals bitten by a dog requires medical attention.

Children are the most common victims of dog bites and these bites happen during common, everyday activities and practices. Any dog can bite and even though some breeds are known for their aggressive natures, any dog will bite if they are provoked. The only thing that can determine if a dog will bite is its temperament, character, and experience.

Dog Bite Liability

Dog owner’s hold the responsibility of ensuring that their pets don’t hurt people or damage other individual’s property. If a dog hurt’s someone the owner could be liable for the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Time missed at work
  • Potential wages lost
  • Pain and suffering

A dog owner’s renters or homeowners insurance could cover costs, even if the injury isn’t on the owner’s premises. If you have fallen prey to an animal attack, then contact a Milwaukee dog bite victim attorney.

Dog Bite Civil Lawsuits

Dog owners can be sued and taken to civil court in the following instances:

Proving Negligence

Many local communities have leash laws that protect victims from negligent owners who violate those laws and leave their dog’s unintended. If a victim can prove that the dog owner violated their duty to care for others, they may be entitled to damages.

Breaking Dog Statues

Each state has it’s own statutes to protect people from dog bites. For example, in the state of Florida, failure to post a “bad dog” sign on your property, or if a dog harms an individual or their livestock could result in breaking of Florida Statute §§ 767.01, 767.04 and be a violation of the law. In these cases, the dog’s owner could be held responsible for any injuries incurred.

One Bite Rule

If the victim can demonstrate in court that the owner was aware that their dog is more likely to hurt someone, for example in instances of dog surgeries or abuse, then the owner can be held liable in instances of dog attacks.

What should I do if a dog bites me?

Dog bites are fairly common and recovering from the traumatic experience may depend on what you do next. Here are some steps that you can follow if you or someone you care for is injured in a dog biting accident:

Seek Medical Care

Seeking medical attention is essential in recovering from your injuries and seeking damages in your case. If you’re unable to demonstrate how the dog bite has negatively affected your health, then it will be even harder to demonstrate to a judge or an insurance company why you’re entitled to compensation.

Document Everything

Collecting contact information of the dog’s owner and witnesses can help your legal defense team build your case. Maybe you won’t initially feel like you’ll want to seek reconciliation in your case but taking photos, speaking with witnesses, and being able to contact the owner will serve useful just in case you change your mind.



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The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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