Dogs may be a man’s best friend, however, their behavior can be quite unpredictable. In the US, there are 4.7 million cases of dog bites each year. It doesn’t matter if you’re a dog owner or not, as you may still have to face the music. Therefore, it’s important to know what legal actions you can take or what legal actions could be taken against you in all circumstances. The laws vary from state to state, and as such a New Jersey dog bite attorney may tell you different implications of a situation as compared to another state attorney. In all cases, you need to contact a dog bite attorney and be well-prepared. So, here is what you need to know about a dog bite lawsuit:
As stated above, different states have different laws for dog bites. For instance, Florida is a “strict liability” state. Therefore, if you live in Florida and a dog bites you, the dog owner will be held liability and their prior knowledge of circumstances like their dog might bite doesn’t even matter.
However, in the other states, this law implication is different. They have a “one bite rule” which means that the dog owner will only be liable to you if their dog had bitten someone else in the past, or they had known that their dog is dangerous.
Valid Defenses against a Dog Bite Lawsuit
Now, let’s say you have been bitten by a dog. The first thing that comes to mind is to file a lawsuit against the dog owner. However, you need to be aware of the following defenses that they can use to not pay your claims:
- Contributory Negligence – The dog owner can argue that you were also partially liable to what happened in a given situation. For example, if there was a signboard saying “beware of dog” or the owner warned you to stay away from the dog and you voluntarily took the risk anyway then your chances to claim for damages may be zero.
- Trespassing – If you were not lawfully on private property then most of the states’ dog bite laws don’t apply to you.
- Provocation – If you provoked the dog by hitting or teasing it, you most probably won’t have a winning case on your hands. It also includes unintentionally stepping on a dog’s tail, intervening in a dog fight, etc.
If you don’t want to waste your resources by having to go to the court for settlement or you were bitten by your family member’s or friend’s dog and you certainly don’t want to sue them, you can relax as most homeowner’s insurance policies cover dog bites that happened on the insured property.
How to Prevent Dog Biting?
As a dog owner, you are responsible for the actions of your dog, and you want to ensure to keep the possible lawsuits at bay. Therefore, you need to properly train and secure your dog, no matter, if you own a German Shepherd or a Chihuahua, training a dog, is your responsibility. You can also start socializing your dog to be around other people and animals at an early age.