This question has stirred up quite the controversy in many Dog Bite Liability Claims; who is at fault in a dog bite case? The practical response may be the dog owner, the person who was bit (“They provoked my dog!”), or the parent or guardian of the child that was bit. In the eyes of the law, however, none of these answers are correct. The dog is nearly always the guilty party in a dog bite case, no matter the circumstances.
If your dog bites and causes bodily harm to another person, the dog is the party at fault, and as his or her owner; you will be the one held liable. In very rare cases, the dog’s owners might not be held legally responsible if, according to legal resource website Nolo.com, the injured party:
-Provoked an injury from the dog. This is unfortunately hard to prove as you cannot guarantee that the person that was bit understood their actions may provoke a bite or attack.
-Knowingly took the risk of being injured by the dog. This could be a case of someone trespassing onto property with a clear “Beware of Dog” sign. However, by having the sign present you could unintentionally acknowledge that your dog is vicious, and will lose that defense.
-Was trespassing or otherwise breaking the law. See above example.
-Was unreasonably careless, and that carelessness contributed to the injury. Much like in the case of provoking injury, you’d have to prove that the injured party understood his actions were careless. For example, while taking food or a toy away from a dog actively enjoying it could be a clear act of carelessness in a dog owner’s eyes, an inexperienced individual may not know that this is a problem; especially if they are a child.
Dog bite cases are handled on a state basis, and often states don’t agree on whether or not an injured trespasser who sues a dog owner for negligence can win; however it’s not advisable to take that chance. Even if you think your dog will never bite an individual, bites are usually unpredictable and it’s better to be financially protected with the right Dog Bite Liability Insurance than to hope you will never be in this situation.
Federation of Insured Dog Owners (FIDO) now offers the Covered Canine Policy in all states (excluding Alaska) to protect you should your dog bite an individual and cause harm. Please contact us today at (855) 534-6495 to learn more.