Dog Bites: Who Has Liability and What You Can Do

Getting bitten by a dog could arise from various circumstances. The dog could be rabid, or they could just be playing with someone, and they accidentally bite too hard. If you encounter situations like this, always remember to wash the wound, stop the bleeding, and apply antibiotic creams. If the injury won’t stop bleeding or causes intense pain, see a doctor immediately. But whether you own a dog, and they bite someone, or you get bitten by someone else’s dog, you need to be aware of where the liabilities lay.

Who has liability if someone’s dog bit me?

Dog owners often think that dog bites aren’t something to be alarmed of, but it’s the opposite of that. Let’s say you get bitten by a dog with an unknown rabies vaccine history, and the wound gets infected or swollen. You should let the owner know and let them cover the medical costs. Filing an injury claim against the dog owner can lead to fruition when the owner refuses to cooperate. After that, you should report the bite to the police or animal control. In some cases, the dog owner will be apologetic and will pay for all the medical bills.

In some states, they practice the “one-bite” rule. This law makes the owner liable if they know that their dog was likely to bite someone. Cases differ from situation to situation, though. You should assess the circumstances by asking:

  • Are you lawfully on the property of the dog owner when you were bitten?
  • Did the owner leave their gate open?
  • Did the dog have any leash before the incident (if it happened outside)?
  • Did either of you or the owner report the bite?

As you can see, there are lots of factors to consider whether your case is winnable or not. What matters is that you should know your rights as the victim. In most states, you can sue the dog owner when you experience significant harm or injury; if so, you should get a personal injury attorney to assist you with your case.

What if my dog bit someone else?

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First and foremost, get them medical attention to prevent further injury. After that, you should cooperate with the victim and help them along the way. As a dog owner, you need to take responsibility for the incident. Like before, various circumstances come into play when dealing with dog bites in court. You should check if:

  • Did they provoke the dog?
  • Were they trespassing on your personal property?
  • Were they breaking the law, i.e., stealing something in your house?
  • Did they go near the dog while knowing the risk of injury?

In some states, the law states that dog owners should take precautions when they have a pet that could injure or have injured someone. If you lose the case, the judge might even order to euthanize the dog. We wouldn’t want that, do we? So, if your dog bites someone, it’s important to cooperate.

Final thoughts

If your dog bit someone, you should settle the situation without running away. When you claim innocence, even though you know you aren’t, you could lose more if the bitten person escalates the incident to the court. If you’re the one who got bit, you should first talk to the owner and assess the situation.

Either way, you should always:

  • Get the names and phone numbers of the dog owner or the person who got bitten. Keeping in touch is vital, mainly when the wound gets infected the next day or injuries relating to the dog bite arise.
  • Document the incident. It would help if you took pictures of the dog and any visible injuries. In some cases, dog bites heal too quickly, and you might have nothing to show to the insurance agency or the court.
  • Get/give medical attention. Dog bites are no joke; they could cause far worse injuries than surface wounds.
  • Report the incident to the authorities. They’ll document everything, and it could help you negotiate with the owner or help you win the case if it escalates to that extent.
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