Jun
17
2013

Dog Bite Liability Laws and State Statutes

Dog Bite Liability Laws and State StatutesDog Bite Liability Laws and State Statutes

In our previous blog post regarding dog bite liability laws, we reiterated the generality of the one bite rule, strict liability rules and negligence law. Dog bite codes and regulations greatly vary in each state, county and city; so it’s important to understand how the dog bite is applicable to your specific case.

Federation of Dog Owners (F.I.D.O.) offers the Covered Canine Policy to F.I.D.O. member residing in California, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin.

Because all the states listed above  (with the exception of North Carolina and Pennsylvania) do not adhere to the “One Bite Rule,” dog owners are held liable for the dog’s actions.

This is a brief overview of dog bite liability laws by state; please refer to your state’s civil code for information on your local dog bite laws.

California– According to California Law, dog bite owners are held liable for  damage’s incurred by the dog bite victim while in a public place or lawfully in a private place (ie. dog owner’s property). It is the dog owner’s civil duty to take reasonable steps to remove potential dangers to others from his/her dog bites.

Florida– According to Florida Law, dog bite owners are held liable for the damage’s incurred by the dog bite victim while in a public place or lawfully in a private place (ie. dog owner’s property). The case will not take into account former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of dog’s aggressive behavior.

However, if the dog is declared dangerous or bites somebody without provocation, the dog bite owner is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Exceptions include:

  • dog bite victim is negligent, the dog owner’s liability may be reduced
  • owner is under the age of 6
  • owner has displayed a “Bad Dog” sign on his/her premise

Iowa:  According to Iowa Law, dog bite owners are held liable for the damage’s incurred by the dog bite victim if the dog is caught inuring/killing a domestic animal or the dog is caught biting/attempting to bite a person (except if the victim is doing an unlawful act).

Michigan- According to Michigan Law, dog bite owners are held liable for the damage’s incurred by the dog bite victim while in a public place or lawfully in a private place (ie. dog owner’s property). However, if provocation by the dog bite victim is present, the dog owners will not be held liable.

New Hampshire- According to New Hampshire Law, dog bite owners are held liable for the damage’s incurred by the dog bite victim if the dog is deemed as a menace, nuisance or vicious or if the dog owners doesn’t comply to local dog laws.

Under this statute, a dog is declared as a menace, nuisance or vicious if:

  • Barks continuously barks at night for more than 30 minutes
  • Digs, scratches, or scatters waste on another individual’s property
  • Growls, snaps at, runs after, or chases a person, bicycles, car and motorcycles
  • And more

North Carolina- Unlike other states we discussed, North Carolina does adhere to the “One-Free-Bite:” Rule. According to North Carolina Law, dog bite owners are held liable for the damage’s incurred by the dog bite victim if the dog has a history of aggressive behavior or is declared “potentially dangerous”

A dog is declared potentially dangerous if:

  • Dog has injured or killed a person that did not provoked him/her
  • Dog is trained for dog fighting
  • And more

Pennsylvania- According to Pennsylvania law, liability is imposed on the owner if the injury is severe or the dog has a history of aggressive behavior. Dog bite victim can receive full compensation if the dog fails to follow local dog laws.

If the dog has not bitten before, victims who have suffered severe injuries can file for a claim for medical expenses, losses and legal damages If the dog bite victim suffered minor injuries, he/she can file a claim for medial expenses.

Under Pennsylvania’s statute, a dog is declared dangerous if:

  • Inflict injury on a person or attacked a person without provocation
  • Dog has killed or injured a domestic animal
  • Dog has been used in a criminal activity
  • And more

Utah- According to Utah Law, dog bite owners are held liable for the damage’s incurred by the dog bite victim. Liability may be reduced, if provocation was present.

Wisconsin- According to Wisconsin Law, dog bite owners are held liable for the damage’s incurred by the dog bite victim if he/she is able to prove negligence. If the owner is aware that the dog has previously caused injuries, the dog owners must pay double damages.

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.

Source: Map of State Dog Bite Laws

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