As long as we have had dogs as pets, there have been dog bite accidents. In 2015, there were 34 deaths related to dog bites in the U.S. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers combined accounted for 91% of these fatal attacks. Last year, 14 of the 34 fatality victims were children aged 9 and under, and 20 victims were adults. Of these cases, only 3 resulted in serious criminal charges.
Imagine that you’re walking down a calm, tree-lined street in your neighborhood when suddenly, out of nowhere, a snarling dog comes running toward you, its leash whipping in the wind. The dog’s owner is chasing right behind, trying to grab the leash, but is too late. The dog jumps up and bites your hand, drawing blood and leaving tooth marks. What do you do? What are your rights in Ohio?
Ohio is known as a statutory strict liability state. This means that a dog owner, keeper, handler, etc. is liable if the dog bites, injures, or causes property damage to a person. Victims of dog bites are able to recover under Ohio’s dog bite law, and the common law doctrines of negligence and negligence per se.
To recover for negligence in Ohio, a dog bite victim must show that the animal had the propensity to bite people unprovoked, and that the owner, keeper, or handler was aware of the dog’s vicious traits. The victim can also claim the defendant dog owner’s “negligence per se” by showing that the person violated a law, such as a leash or animal control law, or that the dog trespassed.
The best way to prevent being bitten or mauled by a dog is to be extremely cautious in approaching an unfamiliar dog. If the dog is running free, without an owner nearby, try to avoid eye contact and walk the opposite direction away from the dog. If the dog is leashed by its owner, always ask before approaching or touching the dog.
However, if you are bitten by a dog, there are important steps you need to take. Identify the dog and its owner’s name and address, as well as witnesses, if possible. Always seek professional medical treatment because the risk of dog bite infection is high. Once your injuries are examined, be sure to monitor your condition closely.
As soon as possible, file a dog bite report with your city or county. As part of this, you should photograph your injuries and the crime scene. It is also helpful to keep personal records of your daily healing.
It is highly advisable to contact a personal injury attorney if you are considering bringing legal action against the dog’s owner. Whereas the insurance companies and dog owner will try to pay as little as possible, an attorney will work on behalf of your best interest and seek proper compensation for your injuries.