The rules/laws that determine whether the dog owner is responsible for bites and any injuries resulting from those bites depend on the state you’re from. Some states have strict laws regarding dog bite injury lawsuits, and some don’t. So, depending on where you live, you can make your case. Being aware of your state laws can help an owner liability for a dog bite injury. Meanwhile, if you seek compensation after being bitten by a dog, you should be mindful of the defendant’s or their insurer’s response to your claim.
Many states employ rules like the one-bite rule, which says that the owner is responsible if they knew the dog would act in such a manner. It doesn’t mean that a dog is given the right to harm one person. Even if your state does not implement the one-bite rule, the owner may try to establish that you provoked the dog, were trespassing on their property or failed to take reasonable precautions to protect yourself.
What Defenses Can Be Used in a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
There are two ways in which a defendant dog owner can fight for his/her case:
- To show to the court that the evidence provided by the person trying to sue wrong or inadequate.
- By presenting a defense based on facts.
The person making a case must prove that the defendant is guilty and responsible for the incident resulting from the dog bite injury claim. It is mandatory for the person making the case to submit evidence to convince the judge or jury. Determining the amount of evidence/proof needed to be submitted entirely depends on the state’s dog owner responsibility laws.
What Is an Affirmative Defense?
What if the plaintiff has provided all the required elements? In such cases, a defense built on facts can help a defendant to win. Instead of making a case that the evidence provided is not enough, the defendant can provide other evidence supporting the claim. For example, most of the lawsuits have a fixed time limit to file. If a report is filed after the expiration time limit, it wouldn’t be considered a valid claim/lawsuit.
The strategies used by the defendant to disprove the plaintiff’s case will be determined by the state’s dog owner liability laws. The majority of states have rules stated below.
- Strict responsibility
- One-bite/negligence rule
Depending on the laws of the states and how strict the court is, a dog owner can make the following cases:
- Convince a judge or jury that the plaintiff’s proof is insufficient to meet the “more likely than not” standard.
- Convince the judge that, in the circumstances, the defendant owed the plaintiff no legal duty of care.
- Persuade the court or jury that the defendant had no cause to believe the dog would bite someone.
A defendant would not normally be held accountable if a dog had never bitten anyone before and showed no indicators of being a dangerous dog.
Cases of Trespassing or Provoking a Dog
The owner is unlikely to be held accountable for any subsequent bite if the alleged victim triggered the encounter by insulting or taunting the dog. If the provocation was inadvertent, the scenario could become more problematic, especially if a child provoked the dog. This is because youngsters under the age of eight are not expected to comprehend the dangers of agitating a dog. To see if a provocation defense will work in your state, look up the law and court cases that have dealt with it.
If your dog bites the person who entered your property illegally, he can’t sue you. You might be accountable if you ordered the dog to attack the trespasser because you cannot willfully harm others on your property, whether or not they were legally present. Because children are expected to access the nearby property to play with dogs, you may be held accountable if the trespasser was a neighbor’s child.
Alternatively, a defendant may argue that the person trying to sue “assumed the danger” of being bitten by a dog. A famous example is a pizza delivery guy who notices a barking dog in a yard but still tries to enter.
If you were injured by a dog in Arkansas, it is crucial to reach out to a professional and resolve the issue. Thus, talk with our expert attorneys today to learn more about dog bite injury lawsuits.