Say you are walking down the street in your neighborhood and out of nowhere, your neighbor’s dog comes running out and bites you. With there being about 89.7 million pet dogs in the United States, the odds of having your dog, or other pet, attack or bite your neighbor is very likely. In fact, 4.5 million Americans are bitten each year. So if your dog bites someone, are you liable in court? Or if a dog injures you, can you sue the dog’s family?
First of all, yes, you can sue and be sued in these situations. In Utah, we have a strict liability law which basically says that dog owners are responsible for any injuries their dog’s cause, regardless of what measures they take to prevent it. If you chose to take your case to court, you and your personal injury lawyer have up to four years to do so. After four years, the court is almost certain to refuse to hear your case. Utah’s law also isn’t just about bites. If your dog injures someone in another way you are still liable. For example, if your dog runs into someone and knocks them over and they hit their head, you are responsible by law for them. Although hiring a personal injury lawyer isn’t always necessary in these cases, it is often in your best interest to make sure you are being represented the way you want to be in court.
A person can also file a claim on negligence. This is basically a claim stating that you, as the dog’s owner, didn’t use reasonable care for the dog and as a result the injury occurred. Personal injury lawyers are available to help you decide which claim to file, based on your personal situation.
Often times, homeowners’ insurance will help cover the costs of the dog’s attack. Fighting a dog injury law can be tough because there are very few defenses to use. Using a personal injury lawyer can help make the process go smoother and quicker if you are in this situation.
In the end, it is important to be aware of what animal laws are around you before you decide to get a dog or other pet. Knowing what you are accountable for and what you aren’t is key to help avoid being involved in a personal injury case. It is also super important to know if your dog is considered “dangerous” in your area. If it is “dangerous” you could be looking at a charge like a misdemeanor. If you are the person injured by a dog or other pet, contact a personal injury lawyer right away to see what steps need to be taken.