There are state laws that determine who is liable if you are bitten by a dog. That liability is typically based on who was responsible for supervising the dog and whether or not that individual knew of any propensity the dog may have had to bite or otherwise be aggressive. While it is most common that the owner of the dog will be held responsible for any resulting dog bite injuries, there may be situations where liability may point to someone else.
Determining who should be held liable
The facts of each case are always different. So, depending on the particular facts surrounding your dog bite injury, there may be more than one person who can be held liable. The first step, however, is determining the theory of liability that is followed in your state. Some states impose “strict liability,” which means the only proof you need is that the dog cause your injury. If “strict liability” is not followed in your state, then you may need to establish that the dog’s owner knew the dog already had vicious propensities.
Who is liable if the dog was a stray?
It may not happen that often, but being bitten by a stray dog in the neighborhood can happen. But, who is responsible? Unfortunately, if you are bitten by a stray dog, you will likely not have a legal claim. Municipalities are not responsible for stray dogs, generally speaking, unless the dog was being kept at a local pound and escaped. But, you must be able to establish negligence on the part of the city, for not properly detaining the dog.
Dog bite injuries while on the job
If you are required to enter the house or property of a third party in order to perform work, such as household repairs, for example, it is possible to be bitten by the property owner’s dog. Because you are asked into the house to perform the work, the person who owns the property has a legal duty to take reasonable efforts to protect you from injury. That means, if the property owner has a dog, he is responsible for keeping it away from you, or at least warning you of its presence.
It may also be possible to file a claim for workers’ compensation with your employer, if the injury occurred during the course of your work duties. You may also be able to bring the workers’ compensation claim, in addition to bringing a legal claim against the person responsible for the dog.
What if I’m bitten by a police dog?
Depending on the circumstances, you may have a claim against the police department. Police are not allowed to use unreasonable force in making an arrest; that would include improper use of a police dog. If the use of a K-9 was unreasonable under the circumstances, then the police may be required to compensate you. On the other hand, if the police were negligent in allowing a K-9 to injure an innocent bystander, for instance, the police will likely be liable for your injuries.
If you have questions regarding dog bite injuries, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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