How is Liability Determined for a Dog Bite?

Dogs, mans best friend and one of the most common pets to have in your household. With over 65 million people in the U.S owning a dog it is safe to say that we love our furry friends, which is what makes a dog attack even more heart breaking. Getting bitten by a dog can be a traumatic experience and can completely alter the way you see these animals, but how do you know who is liable for a dog bite case. Here in Utah our state has strict liability laws regarding dog bites and we will be delving into what this means for you and what you should know if you are injured in such an accident.

What is Strict Liability?

Strict liability in legal terms is a doctrine that was created to hold a defendant liable for their actions, regardless of their intent or their mental state. This applies in the context of dog bites as well. In Utah this means that the dog owner is responsible for any of the harm that their dog causes, regardless of whether you knew that your dog is dangerous. This differs from other states where the owner may need to know about the dog’s aggressive tendencies to be held liable for damages.

Key Aspects of Utah’s Dog Bite Laws

Utah’s approach to dog bite law is outlined in Utah Code Section 18-1-1. In this statute it specifies that if a dog bites someone, the owner of the dog will be held liable for any injuries that have been caused by the bite. This rule applies even if the dog has never bitten anyone before or has shown any aggressive behavior.

1. No “One Bite Rule”

Here in Utah our state is a strict liability state and does not follow the “One Bite Rule” that some other states abide by. This rule would allow for a dog to have one bite before the owner could be held liable for damages. Utah does not require a victim to prove that the owner knew that their dog was dangerous, making the legal process for any victim seeking compensation for their injuries simpler.

2. Applicability

The strict liability statute applies to any injury caused specifically by a dog, not just bite injuries. This can include a situation where a dog may cause someone to fall or injures someone without actually biting them.

3. Exceptions to the Rules

While the law is comprehensive, there are exceptions to these rules. For instance, if the victim was trespassing on the owner’s property or provoking the dog, the owner might not be held liable. Additionally, if the victim was committing a crime or engaging in another wrongful act at the time of the injury, the liability of the dog owner might be reduced.

What Should Victims Do?

If you have been bitten or injured by a dog in Utah, it is crucial to take the following steps:

  • Seek Medical Attention: Your safety is crucial after a dog bite always make sure that you seek medical attention immediately after a dog bite. A doctor will be able to clean out your wound to prevent infection as well as document the extent of your injuries for your injury claim.
  • Report the Incident: Make sure that you notify and inform local animal control or the police about the incident. Contacting the police will ensure that a police report is created of the event, this report is often how an insurance company will determine liability.
  • Document Everything: If it is safe to do so, try and take as many pictures and videos of the accident as you can. Including pictures of your wound, the dog that bit you and the area where it happened. All of these can be crucial information for your case. If there are any witnesses to the incident make sure you gather their contact information as well as they can help back up your story and be key witnesses for your case.
  • Consult a Personal Injury Attorney: A skilled dog bite lawyer can guide you through the complexities fo your case, help you understand your rights, and ensure that your receive the compensation that you deserve.

Utah’s strict liability laws for dog bites provide robust protections for victims, simplifying the process fo seeking justice and compensation. Understanding these laws is crucial for any victims and dog owners alike. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, consider contacting a personal injury lawyer who specializes in dog bite cases to discuss your options.

At LifeLaw Personal Injury we are committed to helping victims of dog bites navigate the legal system. Our experienced attorneys are well-versed in Utah’s dog bite laws and are here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today for a free consultation