Who Is Responsible for a Dog Attack?

ELI5: Negligence

If you have injuries from a dog bite that were serious enough to warrant medical attention, you probably have a personal injury claim. Utah’s laws governing dog bites are so clear cut, there are only a handful of extenuating circumstances where the owners are not liable. And, these injuries can be very costly: in 2020 alone, homeowner’s insurance policies paid out $854 million dollars in claims related to dog injuries. Since 2003, the average cost of treating a dog bite has risen over 134%.


Some states have a “one free bite” rule meaning that the owner is not liable on the first attack if the dog has not shown any previous aggressive tendencies. However, the owner would be liable for any subsequent attacks since the dog has demonstrated a dangerous disposition. Instead of one free bite, Utah has a strict liability tort. Strict liability means that the owner is liable even if the dog has never attacked anyone prior to this incident, or demonstrated any dangerous propensities.


Some people are afraid that the dog may be euthanized if they report an injury. However, this is not always the case. Though different cities have different rules regarding euthanizing aggressive animals, euthanasia is typically a last resort. Animals are usually euthanized only after multiple attacks have occurred without provocation. Therefore, if a dog has attacked you, do not wait to seek medical attention. A dog’s mouth may harbor dangerous bacteria and disease. Because of this, a dog bite has an increased risk of causing infections.


If a dog attacks you, make sure you get the owner’s name and contact information. Verify with the owner that the dog has been vaccinated. As mentioned previously, since animal bites can contain lots of bacteria, it is imperative that you seek medical attention promptly. Also, if the wound was serious enough to warrant medical attention, you should take plenty of pictures of the injury too. If you need to file a personal injury claim, you will need to keep records of your medical bills as well.


Though dog- related injuries in Utah are typically open and shut cases, there are some cases where the owners are not liable for the injuries their dogs have caused. If the dog was provoked before attacking the victim, the owner may not be found liable. Additionally, if someone was bitten while they were trespassing on the owner’s property, the owner is not typically liable for the injuries the trespasser sustained. However, if the trespasser was a child, the dog may be considered an attractive nuisance. Therefore, if you have a dog with aggressive tendencies, it is important to keep them tethered and in an enclosed area, especially if you know children walk through your yard.


Though many cases involving dog attacks are open and shut cases, navigating a personal injury claim by yourself may be extremely difficult. This is especially true if you’ve sustained very serious injuries and require additional compensation. If this describes your situation, you are not alone. Moxie Law Group is here for you. Moxie Law Group specializes in fighting for the rights of the injured. If you have paid the price of a dog owner’s negligence, do not hesitate to contact Moxie Law Group.

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