There are approximately 4.5 million dog bites each year in the United States. It is also estimated that nearly one in five of those bites results in an infection. In 2018 alone nearly 27,000 people received reconstructive surgery as a result of a dog bite. Dog bites may not always make headlines, but there are a significant number of them each year and many result in necessary medical treatment.
Who is responsible when a dog bites you?
The owner of the dog will be responsible for injuries caused by their dog if: their dog has known dangerous or vicious propensities, their dog belongs to a dangerous breed list, or if the dog bite occurs on the owners property. In most cases, these claims will be paid out through the dog owners Homeowner's insurance policy. In 2020 alone, Homeowner's insurance policies paid out $854 Million for claims related to dog bites and other dog related injuries.
What is a known vicious propensity?
This is where the dog has shown dangerous tendencies such as: prior biting, chasing, attempted biting, knocking people down, and even jumping up on people. Other mischievous tendencies may be consider in this analysis by the courts.
What dogs appear on the dangerous breed list?
In Alabama a pit bull is the only breed that appears on the dangerous breed list. However, some cities and counties have their own lists and more dog breeds may be included on them.
For these breeds the owner is liable for injuries caused by the dog regardless of if the individual dog has ever shown any dangerous tendencies. This means it is effectively a strict liability tort. The only possible defense would be provocation.
Should I consult an attorney?
Yes, having an attorney to represent you in a dog bite action can be crucial to the success of your claim. Proving a dog has a vicious propensity can be challenging and requires gathering testimony and evidence of prior attacks or other aggressive behavior.
I offer free consultations in person, by phone, or via video conference. If you or someone you know has been injured in a dog bite incident feel free to call me at (256) 297-1052 or email me at Nelson@griffithlowry.com.