Who is Liable for Dog Bite Injuries?

With the increasing incidence and severity of dog bites and animal maulings happening around the United States, many people are calling for updates regarding outdated dogs laws. Although owners can be held liable for injuries and damages caused by their pets, punishments are often light and not enough compared to the damages that they have caused. Dog bites or animal maulings do not only cause physical injuries, they can also leave emotional scars and psychological trauma. Common injuries associated with animal attacks are lacerations, bruises, broken bones, and scarring caused by deep wounds.

State laws regarding animal bites can differ. There are states that follow the “strict liability” rule, making the pet owner liable for injuries caused by their pets whether or not they are aware of their nature (to bite) or not, with respect to keeping other people from attacks. Likewise, there are states that make owners liable for injuries and damages their animals cause provided they are aware of the dangerous nature of the animal. It can be very difficult to fully determine whether an animal is dangerous or not, which is why it is difficult to bring dog bites or animal mauling case in court. One way to help determine the owner’s liability is the necessity of the owner to know the risks that come with the animal, or if the owner has to know whether that particular type of animal has the potential of harming others.

There are defenses that animal owners can use when injury claims are put against them in court. Common defenses used in court are the “assumption of risk” and “contributory negligence” of the victim. The website of Detroit law firm Ravid & Associates, P.C., states that actions such as provoking the animal, ignoring warning signs, and trespassing can negate the animal owner’s responsibility. Only if the animal attack and the resulting injury was not influenced by such factors can personal injury claims can be filed. After getting medical attention after being hurt by an animal, it is important to find out who the owner of the animal is. Contacting a lawyer is the next step, preferably someone with experience in animal bites cases. Medical records, witness reports, photos, and other evidence play a vital role in winning an injury claim, therefore such information should be gathered together with the owner’s name, address and other details.

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