Owners shoulder responsibility for dog bites

Dogs are often a favorite family pet. However, like any animal, dogs can sometimes act unpredictably, resulting in harm to others. This is underscored by the fact that every day, nearly 1,000 people in the United States require emergency care treatment for serious dog bite injuries.

A severe dog bite can cause significant physical injury and emotional trauma. Understandably, if you or a loved one is the victim of such a dog bite, you likely want to hold someone responsible for what you have gone through. In many cases, bite victims have legal recourse against the dog’s owner.

State laws are in place to provide protection and avenues for restitution to dog bite victims. In the aftermath of a traumatic injury, you may need help navigating the legal system for compensation. The experienced dog bite lawyers at Siegfried & Jensen can answer your questions, examine the facts of your case, and help you build a solid foundation for a successful dog bite injury claim.

Contact a dog bite injury lawyer at Siegfried & Jensen today at (801) 845-9000 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case review. A member of our legal team is standing by to take your call.

The Dog Owner’s Duty of Care

Owning a dog comes with significant responsibilities, including taking preventative measures to ensure that the dog does not harm others. Under most circumstances, dog owners owe a duty of reasonable care to anyone on their property for lawful reasons. This means that, if the injured person can demonstrate that the owner was negligent or failed to use reasonable care in controlling his or her dog, the victim can receive damages.

To prove negligence against the dog owner, you will need to establish:

  1. The person owned or was in possession of the dog
  2. The person owed a duty to exercise reasonable care to prevent his or her dog from injuring you
  3. The person failed in his or her duty of care
  4. You sustained injuries from a dog bite as a result of the person failing to exercise reasonable care

Proving negligence and liability after a dog bite is not always straightforward. However, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can investigate the circumstances of your injury and determine the best route to achieve compensation.

Utah Dog Bite Laws

At times, dogs will lash out in an unexpected or uncharacteristic way, causing injury to innocent victims. Utah’s statutes provide specific details on dog bite liability. These laws are particularly essential when a dog has no previous history of aggression.

In Utah, dog bites are subject to strict liability. This means that the owner can be found liable for your injuries even if the dog had never bitten anyone before or if the owner did not know that the dog was potentially dangerous. A dog owner may be found negligent for failing to properly maintain a fence or pen or neglecting to try to stop a dog attack once it has begun. Further, in many areas of Utah, dogs are required to be on a leash when outside of the owner’s property.

Under these laws, the dog owner is generally responsible for any injuries the dog causes – with some exceptions. For example, government agencies are typically not liable for incidents involving trained police dogs working in the line of duty.

Comparative Fault and Dog Bite Cases

Even though Utah is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bite injuries, the actions of the bite victim are also considered. Under Utah’s comparative negligence rule, if the victim’s actions contributed to the incident, his or her compensation may be reduced.

For instance, if a person intentionally provoked or teased a dog prior to being bitten, he or she could be found partially at fault for what happened. The victim may also be held liable if he or she was warned by the owner not to approach the dog but chose to do so anyway. However, small children may not be fully held to the comparative fault rule since they may not know any better.

The Utah comparative negligence rule allows you to pursue damages against the dog owner if you are less than 50 percent responsible for your injuries. Thus, being able to prove the circumstances of your dog bite injury is critical in winning fair compensation. When negligence and liability are in question or disputed, you need to have a well-practiced dog bite attorney on your side.

Potential Sources of Recovery in a Dog Bite Case

Even when the owner is clearly responsible, some individuals hesitate to file a dog bite claim when the dog belongs to a friend, relative, or neighbor. Understandably, people want to maintain good relationships with certain people.

Most of the time, the insurance policy of the dog’s owner will pay for your damages. Insurance policies that cover dog bites frequently include renter’s insurance, landlord insurance, homeowners insurance, or business insurance. If the dog owner does not have an insurance policy that will cover your damages, he or she may have income or other assets that could make up the difference.

Documenting and Reporting Dog Bite Accidents

Many Utah cities have laws in place requiring you to report a dog bite incident to local health authorities. Taking this step can help protect public health and ensures there is a legal record of the dog bite accident, which can be useful in any future injury claims or investigations.

Law enforcement or animal control may get involved after a dog bite report. An officer will assess the threat caused by the dog with the aim of ensuring public safety. Various steps may be taken depending on the severity of the incident.

In addition to reporting a dog bite to the proper authorities, as the victim, it is essential to thoroughly document what happened. You should take photos of your injuries, gather eyewitness statements, and keep copies of any medical bills and records. Such evidence can play a central part in holding a dog owner responsible for your damages.

Reach Out to the Experienced Dog Bite Injury Lawyers at Siegfried & Jensen for Help

A serious dog bite injury can lead to extensive medical complications, shattered nerves, and mounting bills. In the painful aftermath of such an incident, establishing the dog owner’s responsibility for what occurred is key in moving your life forward.

Admittedly, with all you have gone through, filing a claim or pursuing a lawsuit against the dog owner may feel like an overwhelming task. That is why you need the professional support of the team of personal injury lawyers at Siegfried & Jensen. We believe no injury victim should have to go it alone.

Our lawyers are adept at handling all manners of dog bite injury cases. Time and again, we have successfully held dog owners responsible for the needless injuries of others. In practice since 1990, we have dedicated our careers to helping Utah injury and accident victims get the restitution they deserve, recovering over $1.2 billion for our clients.

Let us help you get your life back on track after a dog bite injury. Please don’t wait – reach out to a dog bite attorney at Siegfried & Jensen today. Call us at (801) 845-9000 or complete our online form for a free case evaluation. We want to hear your story.