Can I Press Charges for a Dog Bite?

While all dogs have the ability to bite someone, some dogs and breeds are more likely than others to cause serious dog bite injuries, such as Pit Bulls and Rottweilers, which are often categorized as “dangerous dogs.” If a victim’s injuries from a dog bite accident are severe enough, the injured person is sometimes able to press charges against the dog’s owner for the dog bite, depending on the circumstances of the accident and the state’s dog bite laws.

Dangerous Dog Laws

Most states in the U.S. have dog bite laws, or a “one bite rule” in place for animal bite cases, but some states have dangerous dog statutes in place that regulate how animals considered to be “dangerous” should be cared for by an owner, and specific consequences that are enforced if these regulations are violated. Currently, there are 39 states that have dangerous dog laws in place, including California, Colorado, and Alabama, but dangerous dog laws are different in every state.

In some states, such as Alabama, if a person keeps a dangerous animal, and it severely injures another person without provocation, the dog is required to be euthanized. However, in situations where the victim’s injuries aren’t severe, the court will decide if the dog could cause harm to another person in the future, and determine whether the dog should be put down, or if the animal can remain with the owner under strict conditions.

In the state of Colorado, if a dog is considered dangerous (has seriously harmed someone in the past, is trained to fight or has shown dangerous tendencies), and bites someone without provocation or on public property, the dog’s owner is liable for the animal’s actions and is required to compensate the victim for damages. Depending on the severity of a victim’s injuries caused in a dog bite accident in Colorado, a dog’s owner could face consequences for the animal’s actions that range between a class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 5 felony (in more severe accidents), and the animal could be at risk of euthanization if the incident is their second offense.

While dangerous dog laws are strictly enforced, in most situations, a dog’s owner has the right to make a rebuttal of the victim’s claim and make an appeal to the court to prove that their animal isn’t dangerous. While most dog bite cases that involve more than one offense aren’t eligible for appeal, in some states, if the owner can prove that the accident occurred due to provocation, trespassing, or another act of negligence by the injured person, they might be able to file an appeal. If this is the case, and the appeal is successful, the victim in the accident might not be eligible to recover damages for the accident, or depending on the state’s laws, could receive a reduced settlement for their dog bite case.

Civil and Criminal Dog Bite Cases

For the most part, dog bite cases are subject to civil charges, but in a small number of states, including Colorado, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, criminal charges are eligible for use in certain dangerous dog bite situations. For example, if a dog is responsible for a person’s severe injuries or death, the animal will likely be euthanized in states that use criminal proceedings for severe dog bites, and the dog’s owner might face criminal charges for being negligent, be required to pay a fine, or banned from owning a dog. In other states that use civil hearings for dog bite cases, while a dangerous dog might be euthanized in certain situations, the dog’s owner, other than being required to compensate the victim for damages, isn’t in danger of being pressed with criminal charges as a consequence for their dangerous animal’s actions.

Talk to a Dog Bite Lawyer Today

If you or someone you love has been harmed, critically injured, or killed in a dog bite incident, and you are unsure whether you can press charges for a dog bite, you need an experienced lawyer to provide legal representation for your case. In situations that involve more minor, quick-healing injuries, it’s still a good idea to consult a Dog Bite Lawyer about your case, but it is crucial to hire an attorney if you or someone you know is involved in a severe or fatal dog bite accident. Most of the time, to recover a high settlement for a serious dog bite case, a compelling lawsuit and strong negotiations from someone with extensive knowledge of a state’s dog bite laws is required.

Christopher Dixon and the St. Louis Dog Bite Lawyers at the Dixon Injury Firm know what it takes to recover the most damages from the owner of the dog that caused your dog bite injuries. Whatever you need during this difficult time, our lawyers are ready to help in any way that they can. Whether you need more information on the damages that you are eligible to recover from the negligent owner, or support during this stressful time, our St. Louis Dog Bite Lawyers are committed to doing everything they can to ensure that you and your family are taken care of when pressing charges for a dog bite.

For more information on what you should expect from the process of pressing charges for a dog bite, call (314) 208-2808 or contact the Dixon Injury Firm today to schedule a free consultation and discuss the options available to your case with our Dog Bite Lawyers in St. Louis.