If an individual is bitten by someone else’s dog, that person may file a lawsuit against the dog owner. However, that does not mean the dog owner will automatically be found guilty and ordered to provide compensation to the injured party.
If you have a dog, it may be comforting to know that there are some defenses that could prevent you from being wrongfully sued for a dog bite.
Injured Person Was Trespassing
In many states, dog owners are not held responsible for dog bites if the injured person walks onto their property uninvited. For example, if a dog owner has a locked fence or a sign that says “Keep Out” and another person still enters the property and gets bitten by the dog, the dog owner might not be held liable.
Dog Was Provoked
A dog owner may be off the hook if the injured person somehow provoked the dog. For instance, if a person hit or teased a dog, it’s only natural for any animal to respond against a threat with self-defense. In this case, the dog’s self-defense might be biting the individual.
Injured Person Was Careless
If the injured person’s carelessness contributed to the dog bite, the dog owner might not be held legally responsible. If a person visits neighbors, for example, and sees a “Beware of Dog” sign on the fence but walks into the area anyway, the injured person might not be able to claim compensation.
Injured Person Knew the Risks
A dog owner may avoid getting sued if the injured person knew it was risky getting close to the dog but did it anyway. For example, let’s say a guest goes into a neighbor’s home and is immediately warned to stay away from a room where a dog is located. The guest, however, goes into the room anyway and receives a dog bite. In this situation, the dog owner may not be held legally responsible because the injured person knew and understood the risks.
Facing a Bogus Dog Bite Accusation?
If you are being sued for a bogus dog bite, you probably feel very frustrated and you might be scared about what will happen next. However, you have the right to legally defend yourself and your dog. The first step is to show concern for the injured person but not admit fault right away. Next, you might consider talking to a lawyer. An experienced lawyer may evaluate your case and determine possible defenses if the injured person files a lawsuit against you.