Dog attacks represent some of the most gruesome personal injuries that are suffered, particularly where a child is involved (as is often the case). For instance, from 1997 to 1998, at least 27 people died as the result of dog bite attacks (18 people in 1997 and 9 in 1998). Of 27 human dog bite-related fatalities (DBRF), 19 (70%) were children (1 was 30 days old, 3 were between 7 and 11 months old, 9 were between 1 and 4 years old, and 6 were between 5 and 11 years old), and 8 were adults (ages 17, 44, 64, 70, 73, 75, 75, and 87). It is important to teach children to be safe around dogs to prevent these catastrophic events from occurring.
Ohio has a strict liability dog bite statute that states that the owner of a dog is liable for damages inflicted by his/her dog if it bites a person who is either in a public place or lawfully on the dog owner's property (invitee or guest). The dog owner is liable regardless of whether the dog had ever been vicious before and regardless of whether the owner had reason to believe it would behave in a vicious manner. The dog does not get "one free bite." The only defenses to the strict liability statute arise where the injured party provoked the dog. In essence, the dog's owner is an insurer of the dog.
In addition, the old common law approach is also available for injured plaintiffs. Under the traditional approach, if the owner knows or has reason to know of the dog's violent propensities, the owner of the dog is liable for damages caused by the dog. See Warner v. Wolfe, 176 Ohio St.389, 199 N.E.2d 860 (1964). Due to the enactment of the strict liability statute, this type of theory is not normally employed.
If a stray bites you, you have little legal recourse because you must file your claim against a dog's owner or keeper. Your municipality is not responsible for the dog, even if you have called the animal warden several times to pick up the stray.
In all dog bite cases, it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the incident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of a dog bite, call The Law Offices of Ronald S. Weiss now or submit a free case form. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.