Dog bites can lead to serious injuries and leave disfiguring scars. For children, the trauma 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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Ohio Dog Bite Injury Lawyers
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 it. 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.
Call us now at 1-800-HURT-NOW to learn what the Ohio dog bite lawyers at KNR can do to help you.
Steps to Take After a Dog Bite Attack
Following a dog bite, there are certain steps you should take to protect your health and legal rights.
Stay calm- Although staying calm is easier said than done, it is important to do so, as showing anger may lead the dog to cause further injuries.
- Photograph your injuries- Take pictures of any injuries that the dog has caused.
- Seek immediate medical attention- After a dog bite attack, you should visit the doctor. If you are losing blood or experiencing any other type of medical emergency, go to the emergency room.
- Adhere to doctor’s orders- It’s essential that you adhere to all of your doctor’s orders. If your doctor tells you apply a scar reduction cream, massage your scars, or receive stitches, you should do so.
- Collect contact information- Ask any witnesses for their names and phone numbers, and gather information on the dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy.
- Reach out to the local authorities- You should report your dog bite attack to the police department and the animal control agency in your county.
- Contact an Ohio dog bite attorney- An attorney can evaluate your case and let you know how to proceed.
Why Consult an Ohio Dog Bite Attorney?
Rather than attempting to resolve your dog bite attack case on your own, you should consult a highly skilled Ohio dog bite attorney. That way, you can focus on healing while ensuring your rights are protected.
Since the majority of dog bite claims involve the dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy, a dog bite attorney can handle all communications with the insurance company so that you receive the maximum compensation you may be entitled to.
With legal representation by your side, you can avoid low insurance settlements and ensure that the insurance company does not take advantage of your rights.
Ohio Dog Bite Issues & Questions
At Kisling, Nestico & Redick, our experienced lawyers have handled virtually every type dog bite claim and animal attack. We can assist with every aspect of your case.
Can I Sue a Homeowner for a Dog Bite?
According to the dog bite statue in Ohio, a dog’s owner is legally and financially responsible for any attacks or injuries their dog causes.
Could I Be at Fault for my Own Dog Bite Injuries
There are a few instances where a dog owner may not be responsible. These instances are when the victim was:
- Trespassing or unlawfully on the dog owner’s property
- Committing a criminal offense at the time of the attack
- Teasing or abusing the dog
What’s Considered a Dangerous or Vicious Dog?
Ohio law defines a dangerous dog as one that has caused a non-serious injury to someone or killed another dog. Vicious dogs are ones that caused serious injury to a person. Someone who has been cited for failing to keep control of a dog three or more times can also be considered the owner of a dangerous dog.
What’s Ohio’s One Bite Rule?
Ohio follows what is known as the “one bite” rule for dog attacks, meaning their owners are responsible for any injury – even the first one – their dog causes.
How Do You Prove Fault for a Dog Bite?
If you would like to sue a homeowner for a dog bite, you will need to establish that the homeowner was the owner, keeper, or harborer of the dog, that the dog was the cause of your injuries, and you sustained actual damages from the bite or attack. You have two years from the date of the bite to file a claim against the dog owner.
Am I Entitled To Compensation after a Dog Bite?
If you were invited to someone’s home and bit by a dog, you should know that dog bites are almost always covered by homeowners insurance policies. Through a third-party claim with the dog owner’s homeowner insurance company, you may recover economic and non-economic damages.
Dog bite damages include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
Should I File a Dog Bite Lawsuit?
If your injury was minor, a third-party claim with the dog owner’s insurance company my cover all of your damages. However, if your injury was serious, the homeowner insurance company may not be able to provide you with fair and full compensation. In this case, it is in your best interest to pursue a lawsuit to recover the compensation you are owed.
Common Dog Bite Injuries
- Broken or punctured skin
- Broken bones
- Eye injuries
- Head and neck injuries
- Face injuries
- Nerve Damagen
- Tissue damage
- Trauma / PTSD
Dog Bite Injury Severity
Animal behaviorists offers six levels or dog bite severity when diagnosing aggression:
- Level 1 Bite. Level 1 represents aggressive behavior but no direct contact between the dog’s teeth and the person’s skin.
- Level 2 Bite. There is contact between the dog’s teeth and the person’s skin but the skin is not punctured.
- Level 3 Bite. A level 3 bite will leave 1 to 4 tooth punctures in the skin, with none of the punctures deeper than half the depth of the dog’s canine teeth.
- Level 4 Bite. These bites result in 1 to 4 punctures from a single bite with at least one of the punctures reaching deeper than half the length of the dog’s canine teeth. This demonstrates a dog that should not be around people or other animals until evaluated by a professional.
- Level 5 Bite. Dogs at level 5 have left multiple level 4 bites and/or have engaged in more than one attack. Level 5 dogs are not safe to be with people or other animals.
- Level 6 Bite. A level 6 bite results in a fatality of a person or animal.
Ohio Dog Bite Insurance Claims
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.
Ohio’s Dog Bite Laws
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.
How To Prove Dog Bite Liability
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.
Knowledge of Past Aggression
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.
You Can Still Recover from a Dog’s First Bite
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.
Dog Owners, Walkers, & Businesses
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. This applies to dog owners, dog walkers, or buisnesses tasked with caring for the animal.When a person owns or is in control of a dog, they are responsible for that dog’s actions.
For example, if you are bitten by a dog while its out for a walk or in a home, to gain compensation under Ohio’s statute, you 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.
Child Dog Bite Injuries
The majority of dog bite injuries happen to children, with the most serious injuries (mostly facial injuries) occurring between the ages of 5 and 9 years old. Children overwhelmingly tend to underestimate the danger of dogs. Unfortunately, while most dogs do not attack or bite out of malice, the injuries they sustain could be severe.
When a child is unsupervised around a dog, the injuries are likely to be more serious because an adult is not present to intervene. Many dog attacks are even at the house of a neighbor, friend, or relative.
Insurance companies of the suggest a dog was provoked into biting a child, but simply petting a dog does not constitute provocation. If your child is bitten, it’s best to consult a lawyer about what happened to assess your legal rights.
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.