A Basic Introduction to Dog Bite Laws

Dogs may have a reputation as man’s best friend, but individual animals can be unpredictable and this unpredictability can be dangerous. It’s important for dog owners to understand not just their own animals and their responsibilities to them, but also their responsibilities to others as dog owners. They can read on for a brief introduction to Dog Bite Laws to get started.

Determining Liability

Different states have different statutory laws regarding dog attacks, but in most cases, owners are held liable when they are deemed to have acted negligently and it is determined that this negligence contributed directly to the attack. Put simply, dog owners have a duty to others to keep their dogs under control.

Defining Negligence

There are a few different ways that owner negligence can lead to dog bites. Those who have vicious dogs that they know to be vicious, for example, have an obligation to keep them under complete control so that they cannot get loose and injure other people. There is slightly more ambiguity when it comes to dogs that do not have a history of violent behavior but, of course, owners are still responsible for keeping their animals under control.

Strict Liability

Some states have stricter standards when it comes to holding dog owners responsible for the actions of their animals. These states don’t require proof that the owner was acting negligently in order to hold him or her liable for a vicious animal’s attack. Often, they also place stipulations on dog owners based on the breeds of their animals.

Proving Responsibility

In states that don’t have uniquely strict liability laws, a few different things must be proven in court in order to establish legal liability for a dog attack. First, the court will determine whether the actions of the animal were really dangerous. Next, it will evaluate whether or not the animal has a history of vicious behavior.

Finally, the court will determine whether or not the owner had reason to suspect the dog’s violent propensity. If this is the case, and if the dog attack caused actual, material harm, the dog’s owner will usually be held legally liable for the attack.