Friday, February 27, 2009

Dog Bite!

As the morning due dances in the rising sun, you continue your brisk morning walk. Its so hard to get those feet on the floor out of bed.. until you get them moving. Up ahead is a medium aged man on a job with his dog. Looks like an sheppard/lab mix. Nice looking dog.

You know the rules with strange dogs. Keep an eye out, but ignore them. Show them too much attention and their can mistake your interest with negative energy. Calm and confident. You walk along, happy you watched that last episode of Cesar Milan's the Dog Whisperer
As you approach the dog, something about your shoes "tickles a nerve". He bolts after you. Attached to a retractable leash, the owner has no control over the distance.


You let out a yelp, as you tumble to the ground, ankle bleeding from three teeth marks. On your way down you scrape your arm on the carpet of rocks on the pathway. Your stunned.What just happened.

Dog Bite.

Who's responsible?

Under the law the behavior of an animal is an extension of the human. Generally speaking a person will be liable for the injuries their animal inflicts on another. So in this circumstance the owner of the dog is liable.

That means you can be compensated for out of pocket expenses directly related, foreseeable costs, and sometimes pain and suffering. Because of the nature, and prevalence of dogs, dog bite attorneys argue very effectively at long term trauma associated with dog bites. But a dog bite is not a 'lottery". Very often you can only get your hospital bills/doctor bills, and lost work time back. Hardly a financial grand slam.

But what if the owner knew the dog has a history of biting?

In most areas, there is a "One Free Bite" rule. Dogs are not assumed to be aggressive unless they have bitten once before. Once a dog has bitten someone the owners are "On Notice" that their dog will bite. This has a huge impact on how a case is heard. If the dog owner is "On Notice" then they will need to show that there was no negligence in them handling the dog. In other words THEY have to prove they did not screw up causing the dog bit.

A retractable leash? That is negligent. If you have a dog that has bitten once before and you have a retractable leash, you are not in control. It is a sure way to be found liable for any injury the dog causes.

Lets say that "Fido" in this example was kept right next to the owner. Straight leash, no slack. For argument sake you loved the look of the dog and walked over, slouched down in front of him. The owner warns,

"He has been known to bite"

But with a floppy tongue, and face like a puppy you can't resist. Your dogs as a kid never bit you. You reach in for a head rub and


Right on the hand. Your career as a hand model is now threatened. Who's fault is it now?

We have the same two people, same location, same dog. Only a few difference in the circumstances. In the second case, the owner is in a great position to defend his claim. He was not negligent, by having tight control, and expressly warning you. Its your fault.

So if you have a dog, a few tips.

1. Always maintain full control. Retractable leashes, are a lawsuit waiting to happen. Plus most trainers will say they do more harm then good for control of your dog.

2. Always make sure your dog is right next to you if people approach. You need to have the speed of a ninja,and strength of a bull to ensure nothing happens.

3. If someone tries to pet your dog, ALWAYS warn that he "may bite". Even if 99% of the time he does not, you should warn. Why? Because in court a good dog bite attorney can always demonstrate you knew your dog could bite. Everyone is nipped by their dog at some point. 90% of the time, it is innocent playing. Try to get a fancy lawyer not to spin that the wrong way!

4. If you have known behavior issues with your dog, then get the proper training for him. I recommend Cesar Milan's books available here at amazon. Cesars Books, or Cesar Videos

5. If you have people over to your house as guests, you are 100% responsible for your dogs behavior. So keep them under close surveillance.

6. Be cautious in telling your neighbours what sort of 'antics" your dog gets up to. Those comments could come back to haunt you.

Finally if you do find your dog has bitten someone, or you have been bitten, first thing to do is get medical attention. Write down exactly what happened as soon as you can remember. If you cannot work it out between the two of you then you should talk to a lawyer.

If you do have have a dog bite question and need to speak to a lawyer, click HERE. Lawyers are online, and can answer your question within minutes for as little as $15.

Copyright © 2009 Peter MacSweeney.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the express written consent of the author is forbidden. Contact the author through the comment form for all inquiries, including media.

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1 comment:

  1. Number five is a good warning because you never know when a dog can be playful in the wrong way to disastrous results. Los Angeles dog bite attorneys suggest dozens of dog bites are just a dog being too playful.




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