Dog Bite Law for Owners

Dog bite laws are in place to protect bite victims, but dog owners should also be aware of what can happen legally after a dog bite. While dogs can be wonderful pets and companions to individuals and families, and often become an integral part of their owners’ lives, even the sweetest dog may still be aggressive at times. It is important for dog owners to be aware of dog bite laws to protect themselves, and their animals, in the event of a dog bite.

Dog bite attorneys are the best resource for determining dog bite liability; however, you need to keep in mind the following instances in which you will be held responsible for after a dog bite:

  1. There is proof that your dog bit an individual.

  2. There is proof that your dog was unprovoked.

  3. There is proof that the injured party was legally permitted on the premises where the dog bite occurred.

State laws can vary, but most are clear about how dog bite matters should be handled. 

If a dog that you did not provoke bites you, you are entitled to damages. Similarly, if you sustained injury while fleeing from an aggressive dog, for instance, if you tore knee ligaments or got hit by a car while running away from the animal, you are similarly protected, and you can seek damages.

Additionally, as an owner, after a dog bite your homeowners insurance will often be tapped to pay for medical bills, surgery to repair scar damage, and lost wages. Many states are what is known as “first bite” states, which means that the first time a dog bites someone, that person will be entitled to damages.

Keeping the above in mind, here are a few of the best ways to protect yourself and your animal from dog bite law:

  • Consult with a professional, such as a veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder to find out what breeds would be the best fit for your household.

  • Understand that dogs with histories of aggression are not suitable for households with children.

  • Don’t play aggressive games with your dog.

  • Immediately seek professional advice if your dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.

  • Know your dog and figure out what might trigger anxiety or aggressive behavior in your animal and avoid these situations.

  • Never leave infants or young children alone with a dog.

  • Post warning signs alerting passerby of the presence of a dog on your property. Even if your dog shows no signs of hostility, it is best to forewarn visitors and others that you own a dog.

  • Properly socialize and train any dog entering your household. Teach the dog submissive behaviors, such as rolling over to expose the abdomen and giving up food without growling.

  • Spay/neuter your dog, this often reduces aggressive tendencies.

  • Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it. Use caution when bringing a dog into a household with an infant or toddler.

  • Never leave your dog unattended. This will prevent your dog from having an opportunity to misbehave. It will also protect your dog from provocation from people or other animals.

Dogs are wonderful pets and a great addition to most families

If dog owners are aware of dog bite law and follow the basic tips above, man’s best friend can peacefully coexist with people and avoid dangerous situations that could lead to a bite.

Unfortunately, dog bites can happen even with the most vigilant dog owners. If you or a loved one is dealing with a dog bite situation and wondering about dog bite laws, contact a dog bite law attorney for assistance after a dog bite.