Your Legal Rights When Pets Attack [Video]
They say a dog’s bark is worse than its bite. But the facts are that 800,000 people are bitten by man’s best friend every year – and need to seek medical attention. Dog bites account for one-third of all homeowner insurance claims.
Lawyers.com Editor-in-Chief Larry Bodine notes dog bites are no laughing matter and explains your legal rights in this video.
In California a woman was out jogging this spring in Los Angeles when four pit bulls attacked her. She was bitten 150 to 200 times and killed. The owner was charged with murder. It’s the second time it’s happened in California. Twelve years earlier in San Francisco two large dogs mauled a woman to death and the owner was convicted of murder and sent to prison.
Increasingly, dog owners are being held criminally responsible and liable in lawsuits for the attacks by their pet dogs. Most states make dog owners automatically liable for all dog bites. A few states require the victim to prove the dog was vicious or that the owner violated an animal control law, such as a leash law.
If you are the victim of a dog bite, there are several steps you should take:
- Get medical attention right away.Large dogs can exert more than 450 pounds of pressure per square inch – enough to crush bones.
- Notify animal control and file a police report about the dog that attacked you.
- Take pictures of the wound to prove the extent of your injury.
- Check the laws governing dogs. Most cities require a dog to be on a leash, and some states have vicious dog laws. In Ohio and Maryland, for example, pit bulls are considered inherently dangerous and the owners are strictly liable for injuries they cause. File a claim wih the dog owner’s insurance policy. For most breeds, damage from dog bites are covered by homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.
- You can always talk to a lawyer to learn if you can recover damages. If the owner knew the dogs attacked other people or kept them in an enclosure where they could escape – they may be liable for negligence.
But probably even the most dogged litigants would be better off avoiding any possible dog bites and for any known vicious dogs — just let sleeping dogs lie.