Millions of dogs bite men, women, and children every year – often resulting in severe injuries, hospital bills, and trauma. The question becomes, who is responsible when a dog bite happens?According to the Ohio Revised Code, § 955.28 (B), dog owners may held liable for any injury, death, or loss to person or property caused by their dog. Dog bite victims have rights, and a Tiffin dog bite lawyer can assess your situation to determine whether you might have legal action against the owner of a dog that injured you. Skilled personal injury lawyers have seen dog bite laws protect victims by distinguishing between strict liability and negligence and by providing clear definitions of “harborer” and “keeper.”
Strict Liability vs. Negligence
Strict liability, which does not require proof of carelessness or fault, generally applies to inherently dangerous situations, such as dog bites. Most dog bite victims do not have to prove that the dog owner did something wrong, only that their dog bit them, regardless of whether the dog has a history of biting.
There are two exceptions to this rule:
- When the victim was committing, or attempting to commit, a trespass onto the dog owner’s property – or any criminal offense to the dog or dog owner
- When the victim was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog
Ohio negligence laws also allow victims to recover damages. However, in this situation, victims must prove that the dog owner acted negligently. This means proving that he or she failed to act reasonably under the circumstances.
Dog Bite Negligence Laws
To prove a negligence claim, the victim must prove that the dog was vicious, the owner harbored the dog, and neglected to act reasonably under the circumstances. In most situations, this means a dog owner failed to keep the dog leashed, under control, or did something which placed anyone at risk for a bite. Unlike some other states, Ohio does not follow the “one bite rule,” which may prohibit a victim’s recovery if this is the first time the dog has bitten someone. A Tiffin dog bite lawyer can help potential clients determine what makes sense for them.
What is a Harborer?
Dog owners are not the only parties who can be held liable for dog bites. Anyone who “harbors” (owns or controls the premises of where a dog lives) or “keeps” (temporarily controls the dog such as a dog walker) can also be held liable.
Working with a Lawyer
Determining what type of lawsuit to file, and the types of damages and penalties involved will vary depending on the facts and circumstances of your situation. Keep in mind that filing a lawsuit under the strict liability statute must occur within six years from the date of the dog bite for adults. Children injured by a dog bite have six years to file from their eighteenth birthday. Negligence claims must be filed within two years from the date of the dog bite for any party. If you or your child have been bitten by a dog and incurred medical expenses, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact a Tiffin dog bite lawyer to determine your rights.