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Who Is Responsible for Dog Attacks?

dogs barking at each other

Dog attacks can be a traumatic experience, leaving victims with physical injuries and emotional distress. In such cases, determining who is responsible for the attack becomes crucial for seeking justice and compensation. At Biren Law Group, we understand the complexities surrounding dog attack cases and are committed to helping victims navigate through the legal process.

1. Dog Owner's Liability

In many cases, the dog owner is held liable for injuries caused by their pet. This is often based on the legal principle of strict liability, meaning that the owner is responsible for the actions of their dog regardless of whether they were aware of the dog's aggressive tendencies. Strict liability typically applies when a dog bites someone in a public place or when the victim is lawfully on private property, including the owner's premises.

Determining Liability: Establishing the dog owner's liability may involve:

  • Proof of Ownership: Providing evidence that the individual accused of being the owner is indeed the legal owner of the dog.

  • Location of the Attack: Confirming that the attack occurred in a public place or while the victim was lawfully on private property.

  • Previous Knowledge: While strict liability often applies, some jurisdictions may consider whether the owner had prior knowledge of the dog's aggressive behavior.

2. Provocation

In some cases, a dog may react aggressively due to provocation. If the victim provoked the dog, the owner may argue that the provocation was the primary cause of the attack. However, what constitutes provocation can vary and may include actions such as teasing, tormenting, or engaging in aggressive behavior towards the dog.

Determining Liability: Establishing provocation as a defense or a mitigating factor may involve:

  • Witness Testimonies: Gathering statements from witnesses who observed the interaction between the victim and the dog leading up to the attack.

  • Victim's Behavior: Assessing the victim's behavior to determine whether it can be reasonably considered as provocation.

  • Documentation of Events: Collecting any available evidence, such as videos or photographs, that capture the events leading up to the attack.

3. Trespassing & Criminal Activity

In certain situations, the liability of a dog owner may be reduced or eliminated if the victim was trespassing or engaged in criminal activity at the time of the attack. Some jurisdictions recognize the defense of “assumption of risk” if the victim willingly exposed themselves to a known danger.

Determining Liability: Establishing trespassing or criminal activity as a defense may involve:

  • Property Boundaries: Demonstrating that the victim was on the owner's property without permission.

  • Police Reports: Providing evidence, such as police reports, indicating criminal activity by the victim at the time of the attack.

  • Security Camera Footage: If available, security camera footage may be used to establish the circumstances surrounding the attack.

4. Leash Laws & Containment

Many jurisdictions have leash laws that require dog owners to keep their pets restrained in public places. If a dog attack occurs while the dog is off-leash and in violation of local ordinances, the owner may face increased liability. Similarly, if the owner fails to adequately contain a dangerous dog on their property, they may be held responsible for resulting injuries.

Determining Liability: Assessing leash laws and containment may involve:

  • Local Ordinances: Checking local laws and ordinances related to dog restraint in public places.

  • Property Boundaries: Examining whether the owner took reasonable steps to contain the dog within their property.

  • Eyewitness Testimonies: Gathering statements from witnesses who observed the dog's behavior and the circumstances surrounding the attack.

5. Breed-Specific Legislation

In some jurisdictions, breed-specific legislation may impact liability in dog bite cases. Certain breeds may be subject to additional regulations or restrictions. Dog owners of breeds identified in such legislation may face heightened liability if their dog causes injuries.

Determining Liability: Assessing breed-specific legislation may involve:

  • Identification of the Dog's Breed: Confirming the breed of the dog involved in the attack.

  • Local Regulations: Researching whether there are specific regulations or restrictions applicable to that breed in the jurisdiction.

  • Expert Testimonies: In some cases, expert testimonies may be required to confirm the breed of the dog.

Con't Hesitate to Contact Biren Law Group

Being a victim of a dog attack is a distressing experience, but understanding who is responsible is the first step towards seeking justice. At Biren Law Group, we are dedicated to advocating for dog attack victims and helping them navigate the legal complexities. If you or someone you know has been involved in a dog attack, do not hesitate to reach out to our experienced attorneys for a consultation.

Click here to send us a message online or give us a call at (310) 896-4345.