If someone is harmed on your property in a dog bite attack, it can raise questions regarding liability in the accident. If the animal is your pet, and the accident happened unprovoked, you are typically required to compensate the victim for damages, but what happens if it’s a stray dog that bites someone on your property? Or, the incident occurred while someone is trespassing on your property? It can often be confusing to determine who is liable in these situations, but a lawyer can offer information on your rights as a property owner, and whether you are responsible for the victim’s damages caused in the accident.
Am I Liable If My Dog Bites a Trespasser?
It might be a surprise to learn that in some states, a property owner can be liable for a trespasser’s dog bite damages under a state’s dog bite law. While a trespasser can’t sue the dog’s owner for liability in the accident, in some situations, trespassers can claim “negligence theory of liability” if the state’s statute allows. To prove “negligence theory of liability,” the trespasser needs to demonstrate the following:
- that the owner should have reasonably known that their animal could harm someone on their property
- that the property owner, knowing that the dog is dangerous, should have taken precautions to prevent potential accidents – such as keeping the dog on leash
- that the owner’s negligence played a big part in the accident occurring
For example, if someone knows that their Pit Bull is aggressive towards strangers and that the child next door often cuts through the backyard to get to a friend’s house, the owner of the dog should take precautionary measures to prevent a possible accident. The dog’s owner could keep the dog on a leash, put up a dangerous dog sign, and/or ask the boy’s parents not to allow their child to cut through the yard. However, if the property owner is negligent and doesn’t do anything to prevent an attack, and the boy suffers a dog bite, the victim’s parents could bring a suit against the property owner under the negligence theory of liability to recover damages.
What Happens If a Stray Dog Bites Someone On My Property?
Liable parties in dog bite accidents are most often a dog’s owner or “keeper.” While it is typically easy to prove that someone owns an animal, the term “keeper” is a bit more loose. Most state dog bite statutes state that a person is legally responsible for a dog’s actions if they take care of the dog or have control of it, or if a property owner knew that a dog was dangerous, but never did anything to keep it off of the property.
For example, if someone regularly feeds a stray dog that visits their property, and the dog bites someone while on the person’s property, the property owner could be considered a “keeper” in the accident, and be required to compensate the injured person for damages. Similarly, if a landlord knows that a stray dog often visits the property, and it is easily disturbed by strangers, and the animal bites someone, the landlord can be liable for the victim’s damages for allowing the “dangerous” dog on the property.
Talk to a Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If a dog has bitten you while on someone else’s property, or a dog has bitten someone on your property, it’s essential to hire a lawyer to represent your case, and determine what your rights are in the situation. While in most states, a trespasser can’t recover damages for a dog bite, in some states, a trespasser can sue a property owner for their injuries under the “negligence theory of liability,” even if the state’s dog bite laws don’t allow it. It’s crucial to the success of your dog bite case to hire a lawyer to identify and protect your rights, defend your case against the other party, and offer support to you and your family during this trying time.
Christopher Dixon and the St. Louis Dog Bite Lawyers at the Dixon Injury Firm understand how difficult it can be if a dog bites someone while on your property, both mentally and emotionally. If the other party’s insurance company attempts to recover more compensation than they are entitled to, or otherwise take advantage of your vulnerability after the accident, our lawyers can protect details from the accident, defend you from the other party’s insurer, and do everything in their power to produce the best results for your case.
To date, the Dixon Injury Firm has recovered over $35,000,000 in settlements for personal injury victims, and Chris Dixon has been recognized as a “Top 100 Trial Lawyer” by the National Trial Lawyers Association. When you choose the Dixon Injury Firm for your dog bite case, you can be confident that you are choosing one of the leading personal injury firms to represent your case.
For more information on how our Dog Bite Lawyers in St. Louis can help if someone is bitten by a while on your property, call (314) 208-2808, or contact the Dixon Injury Firm today to schedule a free consultation, and explore the options available to your case.