This post was reviewed by Nicholas A. Battaglia, Esq., an attorney licensed in New York and New Jersey. He is owner and legal content writer for a law practice marketing firm and a realty group focusing on new construction builds in upstate New York, where he lives with his lovely wife and his counselor-at-bark Flora, a mixed breed rescue.
Knocked down by my dog: do I have a case? Yes, a person knocked down by a dog has a case. The victim is protected by the implemented statutes, provided that the dog owner is found guilty thereof. Then, the dog owner must cover all the damages, including the person’s injuries and properties.
When a dog is threatened, afraid, surprised, or not feeling well, it will strike; it will most likely attempt or consummate an attack. Well, it’s very basic that biting is an instinct for dogs to show aggression against their target.
Dogs are unquestionably unpredictable and dangerous to strangers. They may as well commit heinous acts that knock everyone out. According to statistical reports, one in every 112,400 people dies from a dog bite, with about 20 people dying each year.
Dog bites have since become one of the most alarming personal injuries caused by pets in the United States. If you want to learn more about matters regarding liabilities in cases involving dogs, keep scrolling.
Cases of Dog Bite Or Attack
Almost everybody enjoys the thought of dogs. They have enlisted the help of humans’ hearts to gain the attention they need. While dogs bring color to the world, they can also be a nightmare at times.
At this point, we’ll look at situations in which dogs are the primary bearer of the consequences.
#1. Dog assault at work
First off, a workplace should provide a secure environment for workers to think, evaluate, and act. There should be a peaceful environment to work on behalf of the organization.
As what they say, employees will most likely be efficient if the environment is peaceful and safe. It’s sad to think that some jobs aren’t as secure and tranquil as others. Like in the case of Abundant Animal Care LLC v. Gray, 316 Ga.App. 193 (GA.App.2012).
The complainant was just a new employee at a veterinary clinic, and this situation occurred on the first day of work. She was given the responsibility of exercising a dog outside when the dog became violent and bit her three times.
She filed a lawsuit against the veterinary school, alleging that they were incompetent in assessing the dog’s skills. Without further thought, the responsibility is immediately transferred to the dog’s owner or keeper.
Following Minnesota Statute 2020, the veterinarian and the clinic were found guilty, thereby liable for the dog’s damages against the employee.
#2. Bitten by a dog at church
Adopting a dog needs a lot of effort and time to understand its nature fully. Therefore, it is best to keep the dog indoor during its first few months of adoption before bringing it outside your house to roam and have fun. This act will most likely prevent the occurrence of unwanted situations.
Now let’s see the case of Auster v. Norwalk, 943 A.2d 391 (Conn. 2008):
This case took place during a Sunday service at a local church. The defendant was an employee of the church, while the plaintiff was a frequent churchgoer attending the service.
Unfortunately, the plaintiff was bitten by the defendant’s dog without provocation, leaving him with bruises and wounds. The complainant reported the case against the church because he believed it is the church’s responsibility to control the place while the employee is focused on his job.
Eventually, the Supreme Court sided with the church’s council because of the owner’s negligence. Therefore, the court referred the liability and compensation to the dog owner.
The law is clear that the dog’s custodian shall not leave his animal property unattended. Furthermore, the dog owner is automatically held responsible for the act because of the dog’s viciousness and propensity.
#3. Killing a dog is okay?
According to an American statistics report, children are considered to be more affectionate with dogs, making them the most bitten age group. Some of the dogs in the area known to be friendly to children are of larger breeds.
These dogs can quickly knock children down or, worse, leave them with severe wounds. Due to this, parents should keep an eye on their children to ensure that they are protected against dog attacks. Quite similar to the case of Boosman v. Moudy, 488 S.W.2d 917 (Mo.App. 1972).
The plaintiff, in this case, was the dog owner’s wife in Alabama, which set it apart from the others. It happened after the dog that attacked the victim’s father killed the young girl and left her with wounds all over the neighborhood.
After hearing the news from her husband, the dog owner’s wife burst out laughing. Since the dog was killed just a few days after the dog attack, this case is challenging to address. According to experts, the rule of animal welfare would shield the little girl from physical harm.
On the other hand, other attorneys claim that the Revised Code Chapter 955.28, which allows the dog keeper to take responsibility for damages, will work against it.
Evidence Manifesting The Dog’s Capability To Knock Down A Person
All breeds of dogs can either be friendly, loyal, and affectionate or, on the other hand, can be dangerous and self-assertive. These negative traits are not new based on the experiences some people have encountered. That is why dog-related cases are amongst the reason why other people develop cynophobia.
Most dogs have muscular systems that are built for endurance rather than speed. These systems in their bodies allow them to develop enough strength to run, stalk, jump and initiate battles against perceived enemies.
Dogs have a similar muscular structure as wolves. One of the specific traits of wolves is strength; dogs augmented this characteristic. Dogs and wolves are related species; therefore, they share the same potent attribute that may bring a person to his knees.
Larger breeds such as American Pit Bull Terriers, German Shepherds, and Rottweilers have an average of 269 pounds of pressure in every bite once they are provoked. They technically bite stronger than humans and can also lead to infections caused by bacteria, rabies, or other serious illnesses.
Are Dogs Liable?
No, the owner bears full responsibility for any action taken by a dog in his care. Consider this example: when a dog performs a remarkable act, such as lending a helping hand to strangers or winning a reality TV show, the owner receives recognition alongside the dog, rather than the dog alone.
The same is true whenever the dog performs a wrongful act. Consequently, the dog’s owner is liable for any harm caused by his dog’s undesirable conduct. He’ll have to pay for all the injuries (physical, psychological, material, and livestock) caused by his dog to another.
Was The Dog Owner Incautious?
The custodian of a dog can be found guilty if:
- He neglected the malicious behavior manifested by his dog, resulting in unwanted instances;
- He left the dog by itself around strangers that caused traumatic incidents with victims; or
- He failed to perform an act to discipline his dog, without which caused severe injuries to another.
Possible Defenses Of The Dog Owner
While it is always difficult for the dog owner to protect himself after an incident, he may be able to assert certain defenses against the dog’s perpetrator.
Given the fact that homeowners and renters insurance company’s attorney can fight back by imposing that the victim:
#1. Instigate the dog
This act may be done by petting, teasing, or hurting a dog on purpose. Dogs are also provoked when interrupted during a fight or spraying chemicals on them.
#2. The victim was doing a horrendous act at the time
The liabilities may be disregarded if the victim is guilty of trespassing or intent stealing. It is not the dog’s owner’s fault because it’s territorial. The dog’s owner will have the power to file a case against the victim. Besides, the victim has committed a crime.
#3. Saved someone weaker by voluntarily risking
When the victim admits to putting himself in danger on purpose, the owner’s liability is justified, especially when there are signs like “Beware of Dogs” or “Dog Danger Zone” on the dog owner’s property.
The dog owner’s negligence may lead to unfortunate dog-related injuries, which also results in grave consequences. Numerous localities and states, particularly in recent years, have enacted laws and legislation protecting people’s right to a peaceful environment.
During this incident, homeowners’ and renters’ insurance also play a huge part. They usually cover a dog bite incident for $100,000 to $300,000 in damages. If the damages exceed this amount, the owner must settle the excess; otherwise, he will be penalized.
Consulting A Lawyer
If you find yourself in one of these cases, you should seek legal advice; if you’re the victim, you may be compensated for damages, while if you’re a dog owner, you may be justified from liability. Remember, it depends upon the facts of the case.
To ensure that the prosecution is successful, you must hire an attorney specializing in dog attack litigation. Given the complexities of this situation, obtaining legal advice from a lawyer familiar with local laws and the issues surrounding them is an excellent idea.
The following are the best qualities a lawyer must have to get a more substantial case:
- Must have more than five successful similar dog-related cases;
- Must assist you during the investigation;
- Must provide you safety and reliability in funds; and
- Must protect and enrich your documentation from medical records to legal consultations.
Dog-Related Statutes In The United States
In the United States, various laws and statutes have been enacted to protect victims of dog attacks in their respective regions; and these laws and regulations are almost identical to one another.
All of these are primarily concerned with the physical injuries that a human can sustain due to a dog attack and the desire to protect the victims at all costs. Although some laws use entirely different terms, they all have the same goal: that is to administer justice.
Offensive dog-related incidents, in which dogs commit the attack and injure victims without provocation, immediately mark the dog owner/keeper as a penitent and subject them to legal consequences.
Generally, a person who owns, holds or possesses the dog is liable for damages against another. However, there’s an exception to that when the victim himself caused the harm. For instance, the victim was trespassing the property of the defendant. In this case, there’s no liability against the dog’s owner to speak of.
If the dog’s owner or guardian is a juvenile, a parent or guardian may be held responsible under these circumstances. When something happens that is out of the minor’s control, the parents or guardians will be kept entirely liable and will have to testify in court.
In some instances, the victim may be able to kill the dog in self-defense. The dog owner will pay a double penalty: not only will he lose his beloved dog, but he will also be responsible for repairing the losses.
Moreover, even though the defendant disowns his dog and disputes his reliability during the investigation, victims of a dog attack have the right to file a lawsuit as per District of Columbia law.
Other Imposed Laws for Dog Owner Liability
Wait, there’s more that you should know!
Dog bite statute
This law directs the responsibilities to the owner of the dog even without incitement. Suppose a strict liability dog bite law applies; whether the owner knew or didn’t know about the dog before the bite is usually irrelevant.
When it comes to strict liability dog bite statutes, keep in mind that each state has its own set of rules. Other states limit strict liability to bites that occur on public property or to specific claimants.
However, the obligation does not always extend to everyone, such as a trespasser. The different statutes mandated by various states are mentioned above. See it for more information.
Before the twentieth century, a dog owner was the only one responsible for attacks when their dog attacked others, mainly if the owner had reasonable grounds to believe the dog could bite.
It usually means that a dog was given “one free bite” before the owner faced legal consequences. This legislation has already been repealed in a few states. While some people agreed that they could rectify a dog’s first bite later, other states declined.
Regardless of whether his dog has already bitten, the dog owner is responsible for any injuries his dog may cause.
Victim’s Compensation Settlement
You will be able to recover money for your medical expenses if the case is settled. Here’s the thing: dog attacks usually result in high medical bills. According to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, 334,000 of the 800,000 dog bite cases result in additional compensation for emergency room care.
Basing on different situations, you require;
- Immediate medical treatment
- Surgical operation and hospitalization
- Physical therapies
Take note that bringing a case in court is not always the best solution; others would opt for an amicable settlement. And in such a case, you can obtain compensation for the damages due to the dog bite. The agreement may be dependent on the stipulation between the parties.
There’s a limit, of course! The amount of money you can get is restricted to the items on the list above. However, you can protect your income capacity if your ability to work is harmed when you recover.
The time it will take to resolve a dog case
There is no set time frame for resolving dog incidents. Depending on whether the case is determined by homeowner’s or renters’ insurance or goes to court, the time frame differs.
If your case is easy, you can be able to resolve it in one to three months. Depending on the severity of your injuries, your condition will affect the timeline. The more serious your injuries are, the longer it will take to settle your case.
It is, however, best to follow your lawyer’s advice. He is well aware of the situation.
Attorneys usually wait for the doctor’s exact findings on the health issue. These results may indicate whether your case is usual or unusual, which will help you estimate the overall medical expense that you must cover.
Can the case be resolved outside the court?
Yes, you can settle your case outside of court if the parties involved have reached an agreement and prefer a simple solution. Colleagues, families, and other relationships are the most common places where problems are resolved without litigation.
However, depending on the severity of the acquired injuries, it could happen to anyone. Nevertheless, this isn’t always the case. However, if you want to settle your case this way, you can also consult a lawyer to determine the amount of money you might be entitled to and protect your rights.
By the end of this post, I hope that your question, “Knocked down by a dog: do I have a case?” has been answered satisfactorily. Indeed, there is much to learn about this concept, so if you have learned or witnessed a dog bite or assault, it is best to research it further.
If not, keep in mind that this situation might occur to anyone. Use the knowledge you’ve acquired wisely to support yourself and your loved ones.
It’s essential to understand the consequences of every decision you make. Allow this to serve as a reminder to be careful so others won’t be harmed. It is a pleasure for me that you have finished reading this article. You are appreciated.