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Are owners liable for injuries their dog’s cause?

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2020 | Injuries |

Dogs offer joy, companionship, and so much more to their human owners. In turn, dog owners are expected to conduct themselves responsibly when it comes to their pets. Along with treating the animal in a kind manner and ensuring its basic needs are met, dog owners are also obligated to prevent their pets from harming others. 

When a dog bite does occur, the owner may be held liable for the resulting injuries. As explained here, Ohio law spells out when a dog owner is liable for their pet’s behavior, which can lead to a lawsuit filed by the victim to recoup any losses they experienced as a result of the incident. 

Elements of a negligence claim

Like other types of personal injury, certain elements must be present for a dog owner to be considered negligent. These elements include: 

  • Causation - You must show that the injuries you experienced directly resulted from the dog bite/attack.  
  • Actions of the injured party - You must not have been involved in the commission of a crime, including trespassing, when the attack occurred.  
  • Conduct of the injured party - You must not have been antagonizing the dog in any way, which can include teasing, abusing, or otherwise aggravating the animal.  

The difference between strict liability and negligence

Unlike claims of negligence, a dog bite victim does not need to establish the above elements under the strict liability statute. Strict liability means that the dog owner is responsible regardless of their intent or actions. The state of Ohio accepts both strict liability and negligence claims. However, if you plan on pursuing punitive damages, which are enacted to punish the perpetrator and deter others from taking the same action, you must file a negligence claim. 

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