Although family pets and domestic animals are practically a United States tradition, keeping domestic animals does have its dangers. Even seemingly docile animals can turn dangerous, and when that happens it can result in serious injury to innocent bystanders. In fact, each year, more than 800,000 people seek medical treatment because of dog bites.
Fortunately, when these sorts of dog bite injuries occur, the law in each state does provide a remedy. Victims may recover for their damages from dog owners provided that their case meets certain requirements. A personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case to determine what financial compensation you may be entitled to.
Responsibility for Dog Bites
State laws hold dog owners responsible for injuries that their animals cause if the injured party can prove three things. First, the person must show that they had a lawful right to be where they were. These laws do not protect people who are trespassing. Second, they must show that they were “peaceably conducting” themselves at the time of the attack. Third, they must actually be able to demonstrate that their injuries were the result of the dog attack.
Who Is Actually Liable?
That explanation also glosses over an important point: who qualifies as the dog’s owner. The phrase suggests the person who actually has a property interest in the dog, but many laws define the term to be broader. It ends up meaning something much more like the person who had or should have had control over the dog at the time of the attack. This can mean things like dog-sitters or even veterinarians who fail to exercise adequate control over the animals in their care can end up being responsible for the harm that they cause. This definition makes some degree of sense because it makes sure that the person who is best positioned to control the dog is the one paying for the damage.
Most laws do provide some defenses to dog owners whose dogs attack someone. The most common defenses are ones that attempt to knock out one of the three pillars that the injured party needs to prove to prevail. For instance, if the defendant can show that the plaintiff had no right to be on their land, then the plaintiff cannot prevail. Similarly, the defendant can attempt to show that the plaintiff was taunting or tormenting the dog in some way. A dog owner is not responsible for a dog attack if the dog was provoked by the person it eventually attacked.
Contact a Personal Injury Law Firm for Help
Dog attacks can lead to severe, expensive injuries. If you or one of your loved ones has suffered injury from a dog or other animal, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the losses you have suffered. Do not delay in contacting an attorney, like a Morgantown, WV personal injury lawyer from Hayhurst Law PLLC. to find out what legal options you may have.