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From a Legal Standpoint: What Happens After Your Dog Gets Attacked by Another Dog and What Are Your Rights?


The fundamental point to consider is that every dog owner has a legal responsibility to take steps to control their animal and prevent them from attacking another dog or injuring a person.

Given these basic parameters, if your dog is attacked by another dog, the owner will most likely have to reimburse you for medical and other expenses, provided they admit liability or have a case found against them.

If you are looking to have the dog bite laws explained, here are some key points that should cover most typical scenarios when a dog goes rogue and attacks another animal or a person.

Proving that the dog owner was negligent

A lot of dog bite situations will be covered by civil laws and a good starting point would be to explore civil liability laws in this regard.

A dog owner may be found liable in a civil lawsuit if it has bitten another animal or a person based on several typical scenarios that you would have to prove in a civil lawsuit if you are going to be able to claim compensation for injuries and medical costs.

In the first instance, you will have to prove that the dog owner was negligent and failed to keep proper control of their pet.

A typical example where you could prove the owner was negligent would be if the dog was allowed to run free despite a local law that states they should be on a leash. If violating that leash law led to the dog attacking its victim, that should be reasonable cause to consider that they have been negligent.

If a dog bite statute is in existence

Some areas have a dog bite statute in place and if that is the case in your area, that will often automatically apply and means the owner becomes financially responsible and for the damage the dog causes.

When a dog bite statute is in existence it often trumps other arguments and even the dog’s previous good behavior record is unlikely to be enough to get the owner off the hook.

The owner should have known better

If you know that your dog has the potential to attack if it is given the chance to do so, a responsible owner would take the necessary precautions to ensure that the dog was kept under strict control when out in public.

If you suspect that the owner of the dog that bit your pet or attacked you, knew that there was a chance it could happen because it wasn’t the first time it had happened, that would be a situation where you could reasonably argue that the owner should be found liable because they knew that their animal was likely to hurt someone.

There are some cases where the owner could offer a valid defense

Although it is invariably the case that a dog owner is going to be found liable when it has bitten someone there are certain circumstances where a legal defense could be offered.

Here are a couple of examples where the owner might offer a defense.

If they argue that their dog was unfairly provoked to attack by your dog or you.

If the person or dog attacked was trespassing or breaking the law at the time they incurred the injury.

It is argued that you were unreasonably careless and contributed to the injury being caused.

It should be noted that an owner can’t use these arguments in all cases and in some states, the law doesn’t allow certain defenses. These states tend to have strict liability dog-bite laws and that makes the owner liable if they didn’t have any idea that their dog was going to attack.

Dangerous dogs laws

A high percentage of dog bite claims will most likely be settled under civil liability laws but there is also the option of pursuing criminal liability if it is felt that the dog poses an ongoing threat to others.

Under the dangerous dog’s laws that exist, it is possible that a court might order an owner to take added precautions to prevent any further incidents.

In extreme cases, there is also the possibility that a judge might order the guilty dog to be euthanized if it is believed that the animal presents a risk of serious harm to others.

When your pooch is injured by another dog

The course of action you can take and compensation you might be able to claim if your dog is bitten by another will vary from state to state.

As already outlined, some states have strict liability laws that specifically deal with this situation by making the owner responsible for the damage caused by their dog, even if you could argue that they weren’t negligent and had no idea that their pet was going to attack.

In other states where these strict liability laws don’t exist, you might find that law makes an owner automatically responsible for the actions of their dog, only if can be reasonably argued that they should have known that their dog had the potential to attack and bite.

Some of the laws relating to animal-on-animal injuries are antiquated and date back to a time when the primary concern was a dog killing livestock, however, some of these have recently been updated to cover more relevant claim situations.

You will need help

It should be noted that it has not always been that straightforward to be able to get the level of compensation you feel you deserve when you or your dog have been attacked by another owner’s dog.

Although the laws are changing and the claims procedure can be viewed as a work in progress, there are still improvements needed.

This is a very good reason for getting some professional legal assistance if you find yourself in a situation where you want to claim for an attack that has left you with medical bills and other expenses.