While dogs are often cuddly, cute members of the family, sometimes they can pose a threat to people. Often, that threat is in the form of biting. In most cases, owners have the responsibility of making sure that doesn't happen.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the dog bite, the bitten individual may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and, sometimes, punitive damages.
There are three kinds of laws used to establish liability in cases of dog bites:
There are three main types of liability when it comes to dog bites:
Common law: This is enforced when the owner had reason to believe that the dog might bite. In this case, the dog is allowed "one bite" before the owner would be expected to know that the dog was potentially dangerous.
Behaviors to establish a propensity for biting would include a pattern of growling, snapping, fighting with other dogs, or barking menacingly. Breed alone is not often used in court as an indicator of danger.
Dog-bite statutes: Many states have enacted special statutes that specifically deal with dog bites and injuries caused by dogs. These laws establish liability without the owner being "at fault." Missouri enacted such a statute in 2009.
Negligence: This is a broad legal issue and bringing dogs into the mix is no different. A court brings all of the case facts into the picture to determine whether a bite was the result of negligence on the part of the owner. Examples of how this can be negated include trespassing on the part of the individual, provocation of the dog, or behaving carelessly around the dog.
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