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Watch Out for the Dog That Bites

Posted on in Personal Injury
watch-out-for-the-dog-that-bites

Watching out for dogs that bite is good advice for pet owners and animal lovers alike. Dogs may be man's best friend. But anyone who has been bitten will agree that the bite is worse than the bark. While there are many sayings about dogs and their owners, once a bite occurs, the law too has something to say -about responsibility for the injury, and damages.

The old saying that "every dog gets one free bite" was once a correct statement of the law. Owners were liable for the acts of a pet only if it was known to be vicious. Before a pet bit someone, the owner could deny knowing its vicious tendencies. So the first victim of a dog's teeth might have no legal remedy. The old rule began changing many years ago, at least as to pet dogs.

Some states passed laws making owners responsible to anyone bitten by their dog, whether or not it was known to be vicious. Today, most places hold dog owners responsible for damages caused when their dog bites someone. But even this simple rule has exceptions. For example, a dog's owner may not be liable for injuries the dog inflicts on a person who ignores adequate warnings that the dog is vicious and may bite.

For animals other than dogs, the old rule still applies. Thus, an owner may be liable for injuries caused by a domestic animal - a horse, cow, sheep, pig, chicken, and so forth - only if it is known to have a propensity likely to cause injury. Prior actions can put an owner on notice that the animal may be considered "vicious" if it hurts someone.

Animal owners should always take care to protect others from being bitten or attacked by their pets. But everyone can reduce the risk of injuries from vicious animals by being careful. If an injury does occur, it is comforting to know that the animal's owner is usually responsible for the damage that is caused.

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