How Does Premises Liability Laws Relate to Dog Bite Injuries in Utah?

In many cases, dog bite injury claims will fall under the umbrella of premises liability law because the incident took place on someone else’s property, making the owner of the property responsible for damages. This is especially true of the dog is known to be aggressive or is improperly restrained to prevent harm to another. However, dog bites can also happen on your own property, and if the dog is owned by someone else, that person can still be held responsible for any resulting injuries.

In some states, cases involving dog bites can be a bit tricky. The foundation of dog bite law is the “one-bite rule,” meaning that a victim can recover lost compensation from the owner of the dog if the dog had bitten someone in the past or behaved aggressively toward others. The owner has to be aware of these incidents. Many states have specific statutes to allow for instances of premises liability and other negligent actions to counter the one-bite rule, but it still the responsibility of the victim of the dog bite to provide evidence that the owner of the animal acted negligently in order to regain compensation.
However, in Utah, the doctrine of strict liability is applied in all but a few dog bite cases. According to this doctrine, the victim of a dog bite attack or some other violent dog attack is required to prove that: 

  • The bite or attack did happen and did involve the specific animal; and
  • The bite or attack did result in the injuries which form the grounds of the lawsuit.

When it comes to dealing with dog bite injury claims, you should enlist the help of a qualified Utah dog bite attorney in order to make sure that your case is presented effectively, allowing you to recover a satisfactory settlement for your injuries. While many dog bite laws in Utah tend to favor the victim, this does not exactly mean that the dog bite case is a sure thing. If the case is not handled adequately, you could still have to take on unforeseen medical expenses and other damages that you may be unable to afford. 

Being Injured on Someone Else’s Property

Some may wonder if their dog bite injury claim will be unsuccessful because they were on the dog owner’s property at the time of the attack.Utah Dog Bites and Premises Liability The short answer is — absolutely not. 

This is because, as discussed earlier, Utah is a strict liability state regarding dog bite law. Essentially, this means that the owner of the dog has to pay for any injuries caused by the dog, regardless of the circumstances of the accident. There is one obvious exception to this, and that involves police dogs. If police officials are using a dog to track a criminal, the criminal is unable to sue the police for any dog bite injuries.
Dog owners should always try to ensure that dogs are well cared for and that everything possible is done to ensure the safety or friends and neighbors, if not only because Utah dog bite laws are extremely in the favor of victims.

Recovering from being harmed in a dot attack is usually easier when the victim is bitten on the dog owner’s property as opposed to their own home. There are two main reasons for this. First, landowner liability is an established legal principle, and second, homeowners insurance is the usual solution. Landowner liability is the concept that the owner of the property should be liable for injuries that happen to others while they are present on his or her property because the property owner is in the position to be aware of given dangers and protect others. 
The law tries to place the burden of caution on the party who is best equipped to prevent injury. It is also true that a large percentage of dog bite claims are settled outside of court through insurance companies rather than from the dog owner. No one wants their neighbor to pay for the expenses of a dog attack, but it is more unfair that a victim bares the costs of these medical treatments. Homeowners insurance tries to remedy this concern. The policies still include the actions of a dog even if it leaves the owner’s property, but it is always a simpler case if the accident happened on the property directly covered under the policy.

It should be said that over half of dog bite incidents in the U.S. occurred on the property of the dog owner. These situations often involve the dog owner inviting guests over. The dog is likely uncomfortable with these guests and bites someone. The law becomes a bit more complicated when the victim wasn’t formally invited to the property but is actually a trespasser. In many states, a trespasser is not eligible to bring a claim against a dog owner after being bitten. However, in Utah, a trespasser would still have a strong claim because Utah is a strict liability state regarding dog bite incidents. Unless the situation is particularly extreme, even a trespasser has the right to not be attacked by an aggressive animal. The dog owner would get some sympathy from the courts if the dog was acting in self-defense of the owner in the case of a dangerous intruder. However, the dog owner will not be too well off if a child wanders into an unfenced area and is bitten by a dog. 

Utah Dog Bite Attacks

There are 4.7 million dog bites every year in the United States. A dog bite happens every 36 seconds across the country. The victims of these accidents are overwhelmingly children, who account for over 50 percent of all dog bite attacks. These accidents can result in permanent disfigurement and intense psychological trauma.

At Siegfried & Jensen, our Utah dog bite attorneys have over 30 years of experience helping victims of dog bite attacks regain compensation after being bit by an aggressive dog. If you or a loved one has been harmed in a dog bite attack, call us at (801) 845-9000 to see how we can help you.

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Content checked by personal injury attorney Todd Bradford. I worked for a small law firm in Utah County, where I handled various types of cases. My main focus was personal injury and I decided that is what I enjoyed doing the most. I rejoined Siegfried and Jensen in 2012 where my focus is solely on helping personal injury clients. I take pride in helping personal injury clients and enjoy serving them. If you need an attorney for auto accidents or injuries of any kind in Salt Lake City, UT, Ogden, UT, Spokane, WA, or Boise, ID, contact us.