Just because an owner’s dog bites or attacks a person, does not necessarily make them accountable for the injuries that the person lived through. Some reasons why an owner would not be responsible was if the injured person was doing one, or a combination of following:
- The injured person was provoking the dog
- The injured person was trespassing
- The injured person was breaking the law
- The injured person was careless
- The injured person was reckless
These defenses might not all stand in all states. Depending on what the owner is being sued for, then what defense can be used would depend on that element. One-bite rule and dog-bite statutes influence the use of those defenses. Below will be described some of these defenses in more detail.
Did The Injured Person Provoke the Dog?
If the owner can prove that his or her dog was provoked, then it might be enough to avoid liability. Provocation can be done unintentionally, as well as, on purpose. Some examples of a dog being provoked are:
- Stepping on the dog’s tail accidently
- Reaching for their food bowl
- Hugging of a strange dog
- And more
If a child were to hug a dog from behind, and the dog instinctively turns around and bites the child, then that is a form of provocation, even if done unintentionally, and can have the owner off the hook. Of course, each situation is different and can have a different legal action. A great example would be, if the owner had known that his dog had a bad temper around children, and allowed this child to hug his or her dog knowing that fact, then the owner being off the hook for the injuries might be a far-fetched idea.
When someone does not know the dog, they do not know how the dog will react if provoked. People can carelessly provoke a dog without even knowing, especially if the dog is surrounded by someone they do not know, or are in an environment they have never been in.
Was the Injured Person Trespassing?
Those who trespass into private property and end up being injured by a dog that was on the premises would not have grounds to sue the owner, but this concept varies from state to state.
Someone who is trespassing was not invited to the person’s premise, and the owner had no knowledge of them being there. In order for trespassing to be a substantial reason for a dog attack, there must not have been an “implied invitation” by the owner. In other words, there has to be either locked gates, or signs that communicate to another person that the owner does not want them there. This applies especially to people who go door-to-door trying to sell products. Maybe people put up “beware of dog” signs.
If no indications of not wanting someone to enter the property is made, then an implied invitation can be what the person understood, and they would not be considered a trespasser if they go on the private property based off of that idea. On the other hand, if there were indications by the owner, and a person still goes inside the property, then they are considered a trespasser.
There is a general rule that an owner should expect someone to go on their property, such as a child being attracted to a dog from the property can be a reason for them to go on their property. The owner would have to be responsible in keeping their dog from potentially injuring a child, and or, taking preventative measures so that the child does not come on their property. Whether the dog owner becomes liable or not with someone trespassing their property, varies for each state. Here are some basic rules:
- Statutes of dog-bites: These statutes eliminate a trespasser from wanting to sue for their injuries. With this statute, only if the person was found to be lawfully in a private place, or in a public place can they sue if they are injured by a dog. The injured person must provide a good reason for having been there like, a police officer having to jump over a fence to purse a criminal.
- The rule of common law: This law consists of the responsibility of the dog attack being placed on the owner if they knew that their dog was a threat to others, even if a person was trespassing and trying to rob them. If the dog bites the trespasser, then the owner would be held liable for their dog’s actions. However, this law has been questioned by many and has proven to give reluctance in making an owner liable if someone was illegally trespassing, especially a robber.
- Carelessness: The idea of a trespasser trying to sue a dog owner for negligence, has been a subject to talk bout when winning a case. An owner can be sued in some states that believe the owner did not act adequately in the situation. Another way an owner can be sued is if the owner acted harmful, or did not warn the trespasser of the danger even after the knew the trespasser was in their property.
Was The Injured Person Braking the Law?
If the injured person can prove that they were not at-fault, then the dog-bite statute can be applied to their case. If the injuries were caused while the injured person was peaceably conducting themselves, and was not doing anything illegal, then they fall under the dog-bite statute. Always consider hiring a Miami personal injury attorney