When Are Dog Owners Not Liable for Dog Bite Injuries?
Dog Bite Injuries and Liability
If someone suffers a dog bite injury, the dog’s owner is not always legally responsible for the injured person. For example, an owner might not be liable for dog bite injuries if the victim provoked the dog, knowingly took the risk of injury, was trespassing, or was otherwise acting unreasonably careless.
However, these defenses aren’t available in all states, so it’s important for a dog owner to contact a local personal injury lawyer.
Was the Dog Provoked?
In some states, the dog owner won’t be held liable if the victim clearly provoked the dog through hitting or teasing. However, it is possible for a victim to unintentionally provoke a dog, such as stepping on its tail.
Additionally, if a young child tries to hug a strange dog and the dog turns and bites, the owner may not be liable for the injury.
In dog bite injury cases, the circumstances surrounding the incident drastically affect the legal outcome.
Did Victim Understand Risk?
A dog owner can also avoid legal liability by showing that that the victim knew there was a risk of injury from interacting with the dog, and still took on that risk.
For example, a jury may decide that a house guest who has cared for the dog before puts him or herself at risk by playing with the dog.
Similarly, someone who ignores a prominent “Beware of Dog” warning sign will likely fail in pursuing a personal injury claim against the dog owner.
Was There Trespassing?
A trespasser is someone without permission to enter the property.
However, unless the owner has warned people to keep off the property with signs and locked gates, he or she provides an implied invitation to enter.
As a result, someone who ventures onto the property may still have a claim if there was implied invitation.
In Arizona, a dog bite incident must take place in public or the victim must have lawfully been on private property.
If these conditions are met, Arizona law imposes steep penalties on owners for dog bites.