Determining Dog Bite Liability
As I’m sure you know by now, if your dog bites somebody you will be held liable for the victim’s medical bills, lost income, pain & suffering, and property damage. Although determining dog bite liability seems simple and clear, it’s not. There are 3 laws that impose liability on owners.
- One Bite Rule
- Strict Liability Rule
- Negligence Law
Keep in mind, there are no federal laws applicable to all dog bite cases. Next week, we will be reviewing dog bite laws for the state of California, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wisconsin.
One Bite Rule– Under this rule, the first dog bite incident is a free pass. *Please note that the “One Bite Rule” is only available in a few states.
The exceptions to the One Bite Rule include:
- Fail to follow protective dog laws (leash on the dog, not allowing the dog to run loose in public space, etc)
- Tendency to be dangerous
- This means that if the dog has a history of inflicting harm or if the owner knew of the dog’s tendencies, they will be protect by the one bite rule.
- Dangerous tendencies include; regularly snaps at people, attacks other animals, wears a muzzle, etc.
Strict Liability Rule– The owner is held liable for his/her dog’s actions.
The Strict Liability Rule doesn’t protect owners if
- Dog’s first bite
- Ppracticed precautions and behavior modification techniques
- Adhered to protective dog laws
Exceptions to the Strict Liability Rule include:
- Dog bite victim was a trespasser
- Dog bite victim provoked the dog
- Dog bite victim was the vet treating the dog while the incident occurred
- And more…
Negligence Law– The owner is liable if they were arbitrarily careless in controlling the dog
F.I.D.O., the Federation of Insured Dog Owners, Inc., now offers the Covered Canine Policy, an exclusive product and benefit for F.I.D.O. members only. This dog bite liability insurance policy is available in California, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin. It will protect you should your dog bite an individual and cause harm. It does not exclude any breed of dog and starts as low as $75 per dog, per year.