When most people think of a dog, they think of a friendly and loyal animal that is perfectly suited to be their companion. Unfortunately, not all dogs are friendly, and they also have a wide range of emotions that can cause them to unexpectedly bite someone. In fact, there are approximately 4.7 million dog bites annually in the U.S. alone. Most of these bites are caused by an accident such as a dog whose teeth slip while playing tug of war. Only 800,000 of the bites that happen on an annual basis actually require medical attention, and an average of 20 people a year die as a result of dog inflicted injuries.
Which Breed is the Most Dangerous?
Many areas utilize breed specific legislation in an attempt to reduce the annual amount of dog bites, but research has indicated that this legislation has not had a noticeable impact on dog bite statistics. Studies have proven, however, that pit bulls are the most likely to both bite and seriously injure a human. Although there is a lot of evidence to suggest that pit bulls are more likely to bite if they are mistreated, this has not stopped many areas from banning them. According to DogBite.org, pit bulls and rottweilers caused 73 percent of all dog bite fatalities in the U.S. from 2006 to 2008.
Who is Responsible if My Dog Bites Someone?
There are 16 states that have a one bite law in effect. This law excuses owners from being liable if their dog has never bitten anyone before. There are a few exceptions to this law, such as negligence, but in most cases the owner will not face any fines for their dog’s actions.
If a child wanders onto your property and is bitten, their parent or babysitter might actually be held liable for the incident. In fact, many areas will consider the parent to be negligent if they are not aware enough of their child’s actions to prevent them from being bitten by a dog. This does not mean that the dog’s owner will not be held partially liable as well, though, so it is important to always keep an eye on your dog.
Almost 25 percent of all dog bites that lead to a fatality happen as a result of a dog being on a chain. Therefore, it is important to never leave your dog staked out in the front yard unless you are with them. If your dog seriously injures or kills someone, you will be held liable regardless of the circumstances.
Does Location Matter?
According to our dog bite attorney, your responsibility does not change any based on your physical location. In other words, you can be held just as liable for a dog bite that happens on or off of your property. Your homeowner’s insurance might help cover you if the incident happens on your property, however. It is always a good idea for a dog owner to carry liability protection in case their dog bites someone.
If you have been bitten by a dog, you should alert the owner, seek medical attention if necessary and then contact a personal injury attorney. In most cases, the dog’s owner will be responsible for your medical bills. If they refuse to pay, then it might be necessary to file a lawsuit.
Anthony Joseph is a legal researcher, and a contributing author for Steinger, Iscoe & Greene. It can be stressful after a dog attack, and you might be reluctant to sue if the dog’s owner is a friend of neighbor. Having a dog bite attorney on your side might help to simplify the situation. They’ll handle all the details for you and do what’s in the best interests of all parties involved.