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If you have been hurt by a dog you have the right to be compensated. Owning a dog is a responsibility and when an owner does not control their dog, they are responsible.
While Ohio law tends to favor people who have been injured by dogs, insurance companies stubbornly fight dog bite claims. What’s more, Ohio law surrounding dog bites and injuries caused by dogs is complicated. In short, Ohio law says that the person who owned the dog is responsible for any injuries. Also, the person who had control of the dog (for example, a dog walker) is responsible for any injuries. Also, except for landlords, the person who owned the property where the dog lived is responsible for any injuries. What’s more, if the dog was vicious then you may be entitled to punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. Suffice it to say, dog law is complicated.
Wright & Associates has recovered over a million dollars for victims of dog attacks.
Given the complexities of the law surrounding dog attacks, you need an experienced lawyer to help you prosecute your claims. Wright & Associates encourages you to schedule an initial consultation in which our team can review the facts of your case, offer a frank assessment and recommend the best course of action. Use the contact form on this website or call 614-715-4686 to make an appointment.
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- Q: Who is liable for a dog attack?
- Q: What if nobody owns the dog?
- Q: I get that the owner is the person who owns the dog, but who is a keeper or harborer?
- Q: Are landlords responsible for a dog bite or dog attack?
- Q: What are the ways to hold somebody responsible for a dog bite?
- Q: What is “strict liability” and why does it matter?
- Q: The dog that hurt me has a history of attacking people. Does that matter?
- Q: So, if the dog was vicious, how do I show the owner knew?
Q: Who is liable for a dog attack?
A: The dog’s owner, keeper, or harborer.
Q: What if nobody owns the dog?
A: The term “owner,” is the person to whom the dog belongs. However, ownership can sometimes be unclear; for example, the dog may have been a stray dog that a good Samaritan had been feeding, but did not consider his own dog. In these instances, ownership can be determined in a number of ways, including, who the dog is registered to, who the police and/or dog warden listed as the owner on the citation at the time of the accident, and even who claims ownership of the dog via social media posts.
Q: I get that the owner is the person who owns the dog, but who is a keeper or harborer?
A: The person who had physical control (or should have had physical control) over the dog is the keeper. A common example of this is a dog-walker. It should be noted that in some situations, someone’s status as a “keeper” ends when the owner is present and can exercise control over the dog. The person who controlled the property where the dog lived is liable is the harborer. In one Ohio case, a Defendant specifically borrowed a relative’s dog to guard his property. The next day, the dog was tied on a leash on the porch and bit a young child. The property owner was held liable for the bite, as the “harborer” of the dog.
Q: Are landlords responsible for a dog bite or dog attack?
A: Landlords are generally not responsible for dogs living on property the landlord owns. However, there are some exceptions when the landlord knows of a vicious dog on the premises in violation of the lease and allows the dog to stay.
Q: What are the ways to hold somebody responsible for a dog bite?
A: In Ohio, there are two possible ways for a person to be found liable if their dog causes harm to another person: (1) the Ohio Dog Statute and (2) Common Law. The Ohio Dog statute imposes strict liability on the dog’s owner, keeper, and/or harborer regardless of whether the Defendant was negligent. Common law allows for punitive damages and attorney fees, but only if the dog was vicious and the Defendant knew of the dog’s viciousness.
Q: What is “strict liability” and why does it matter?
A: As stated above, the Ohio Dog Statute imposes strict liability on the dog’s owner, keeper, or harborer for any injury caused by the dog. Strict liability means that the dog’s owner, keeper or harborer is responsible to compensate any injured person, regardless of whether the owner, keeper or harborer was negligent. In other words, the victim does not have to prove that the keeper, owner, and/or harborer of the dog was negligent or careless. In fact, the dog’s owner, keeper or harborer is liable even if they used all possible means to restrain the dog. The Ohio Dog Statute does not require that the dog bite or even touch the victim. This can be seen in the Ohio case, McAdams v. Bauman, the Plaintiff was injured while riding his bike on the road in front of the Defendants’ farm when a dog that had run from their property collided with his bike. The jury found that Bauman had permitted a dog owned, kept, or harbored by Bauman to run loose upon a public highway and as such were strictly liable for damage to McAdams’ bicycle, pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical costs.
Q: The dog that hurt me has a history of attacking people. Does that matter?
A: Yes. If a dog is vicious and the owner, keeper or harborer knew of the dog’s viciousness, and the dog was kept in a negligent manner then you can get punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs.
Q: So, if the dog was vicious, how do I show the owner knew?
A: Knowledge of prior viciousness can be shown in a number of ways including showing that, the dog had caused injury to another person before, the dog had tried, but failed to injure another person before, or witnesses testifying that they have been told statements such as, “don’t come too close, the dog may bite,” by the dog’s owner.