If you’ve been badly bitten by a dog, we are here to help. Dog bites can lead to serious injuries and leave behind disfiguring scars. For children, the trauma of an animal attack can lead to life-long phobias. If you were hurt by another person’s dog, do not hesitate to reach out for legal help. There are multiple ways under Ohio Law to recover compensation for dog bites.
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To learn more about your legal rights after a dog bite and the best way to recover compensation, speak with our experienced Ohio dog bite lawyers of Kisling, Nestico & Redick.
Dog bites can lead to serious injuries and often leave behind damaging scars. For children, the trauma of an animal attack could lead to life-long phobias. If you were hurt by another person’s dog, do not hesitate to reach out for legal help. There are multiple ways under Ohio Law to recover compensation for dog bites.
If you were bitten by a dog, you may have the right to recover your medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, pain and suffering, disfigurement, and possibly punitive damages. The legal theory or method you use to recover compensation will depend on the circumstances surrounding the animal attack. Many dog bites are covered under the owner’s insurance. However, if an insurance settlement is not possible, you may need to file a lawsuit under Ohio’s statute regarding dog bites or the “one bite rule.”
Filing an Insurance Claim in Ohio
Dog bites are often covered by homeowners’ insurance policies. If you were bitten by a person’s dog, an experienced Ohio dog bite lawyer from Kisling, Nestico & Redick can help you file a third-party claim with the dog owner’s insurer.
Through an insurance claim, you may ask for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include your medical expenses and lost wages if you were out of work for a time. Non-economic damages may include your physical and emotional pain and suffering and scarring from the injury. If you suffered a minor injury, a homeowner’s policy may be all you need. However, if you were seriously injured, the policy limit may prohibit insurance from being able to fully compensate you. In this case, a lawsuit may be in your best interests.
Understanding the One Bite Rule
Ohio’s common law doctrine – which is a law derived from previous lawsuits instead of a statute – is known as the one bite rule. It states you may be able to recover compensation from the owner, harborer, or keeper of the dog if the dog previously bit another person or acted as if it intended to, and the owner, harborer, or keeper was aware of the animal’s previous behavior.
To gain compensation under this theory, you and your attorney will need to provide evidence to the court that:
- The dog previously exhibited aggressive behavior or attacked another person,
- The defendant you name in the lawsuit was the owner or party in control of the dog at the time you were hurt by the dog,
- This defendant had knowledge of the dog’s previous bite or aggressive behavior, and
- You suffered a compensable injury.
There are a number of ways to prove that the animal previously bit or tried to bite another person. You and your attorney may find a record of the bite filed with your county or the dog may be registered as dangerous. You may also be able to gather witness testimony from individuals who have been hurt by the dog or witnessed its vicious behavior.
Proving whether or not the owner had knowledge of the behavior may be difficult. If there was a formal complaint against the animal or it was registered as dangerous, there is a strong possibility the owner knew it tried to bite someone or did bite someone in the past. You may also be able to obtain testimony from witnesses who place the owner at the scene of the dog’s previous attack or aggressive behavior.
This one bite rule does not give a dog its first bite free and leave you unable to recover compensation. It is simply an additional legal theory under which a person may be able to recover if the dog is known to be aggressive or vicious. If your situation does not apply to this common law doctrine – if you were the first bite – then you can seek compensation under Ohio’s dog bite statute.
Additionally, under the one bite rule, you may be able to gain punitive damages. These damages are not to compensate you for your injury, but instead are to punish the defendant for wrongful conduct. You may be able to gain this additional recovery if you can show the defendant acted maliciously in allowing or ordering the dog to attack you.
Ohio’s Dog Bite Statute
Ohio statute 955.28 regarding dog bites is different than the common law. The owner, harborer, or keeper is almost always liable for injuries caused by their dog due to the theory of strict liability. When a person owns or is in control of a dog, they are responsible for that dog’s actions, including if it hurts you or another person. It does not matter if the owner or person in control knew the dog was outside, beyond its fence, or off its leash when it should have been inside or contained.
However, this is only true so long as there is no evidence that you were in the wrong. The owner, harborer, or keeper may not be responsible for your injuries if it is determined that you were trespassing on private property, on private property to commit a crime, or teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog. You will not be able to gain compensation under Ohio’s statute if the defendant can prove that you were poking, hurting, or being aggressive towards the dog.
To gain compensation under Ohio’s statute, you and your attorney will need to prove:
- The defendant was the owner or party in control of the dog at the time you were hurt by the dog,
- You suffered a compensable injury, and
- You were not trespassing, committing a crime, teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog at the time of the incident.
Call Our Ohio Dog Bite Lawyers Today
At Kisling, Nestico & Redick, our personal injury attorneys have years of experience and tremendous resources to help individuals like you recover compensation following a dog bite. Following an investigation into the attack, we can provide you with advice on how to best recover compensation, including whether an insurance claim or lawsuit is appropriate and who can be named as a defendant. We understand the physical, emotional, and financial consequences of a dog bite can stay with you a significant period of time, which is why we make it our mission to help you recover the most compensation possible for your injuries and move forward with your life.