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Dog Owner Defenses In A Dog Bite Case

Like in most states, dog owners in Ohio are strictly liable for the actions of their dogs if their dogs attack and bite someone. A victim of a dog attack can receive compensation for any medical costs, lost wages, and other related costs from the dog owner or his insurance company. However, the actions or status of the victim at the time of interaction with the dog can affect the person’s ability to later receive compensation for any injuries caused by the dog.

Owners of dogs that attack other people are allowed under Ohio law to use the fact that someone provoked the dog as a defense to a lawsuit for any ensuing injuries. If a person is teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog, and the dog responds by biting the person, then the dog owner may use this as a defense to avoid being found liable for the injuries caused.

Additionally, the law does not hold a dog owner liable for injuries caused by the dog to a person who was criminally trespassing on the dog owner’s property or otherwise committing a crime other than a misdemeanor. There is an exception for door to door salesmen who are neither committing criminal offenses nor provoking the dog, and if the dog attacks them, the homeowner may be found liable for the injuries caused.

Even if the injured person’s conduct does not rise to the level of teasing or tormenting the dog, and the person was not committing a serious crime on the property, his conduct could still affect his level of compensation. In Ohio, an injured person cannot receive full compensation if they contributed in any way to their injuries, and their percentage of contribution to the injuries is calculated and subtracted from any award he receives.

If the injured person seeks compensation under the strict liability standard set forth under the dog bite statute, the dog owner cannot generally rely on any safety measures he put in place to control his dog as a defense. For example, the homeowner can still be found liable even if he put the dog in a pen to keep it from biting other people and the dog escaped and caused injuries. However, if the injured person seeks compensation by alleging negligence on the part of the dog owner, the dog owner can use any safety measure he took as a defense to show that he tried to use reasonable care to keep the dog from injuring others.

The injured person’s decision to sue under a negligence theory instead of the strict liability law should be made carefully, preferably after consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, because it makes a difference in terms of what the injured person has to show to prevail.

Let Us Assist You

If you suffered serious injuries as a result of a dog attacking you and biting you, you may seek compensation for your medical bills from the dog owner. For a consultation on how you can start a claim, contact Columbus personal injury attorney Ed Schottenstein of Schottenstein Law Offices. Call us TODAY at (614) 467-8474​. The consultation is free, and we’ll even arrange free valet parking for you!