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What Happens after a Dog Attack?
ELI5: Negligence

Dog bites are no joke. In fact, the average hospital stay for a dog bite cost victims an average of nearly $20,000 in 2008. And $20,000 is a paltry sum compared to the nearly $900 million that homeowner’s insurance policies paid to victims in 2021. Though changes definitely need to be made to keep dangerous dogs from harming people, the changes aren’t being made fast enough. It’s becoming increasingly common for dog owners to negligently allow their dogs to roam free, completely unsupervised. Though many people are all too happy to make a new furry friend, not all furry animals are friends. Some dogs may attack without warning, even when they’ve historically been nothing but friendly. If your dog attacks someone, do you know what to do?

Who’s Liable?

In most cases, the owner of the dog will be liable for any injury the dog causes to another person, or another person’s property. Since dogs are legally considered property, the owner can be liable for any injuries their dog causes to another dog. This is the case even if the dog owner was unaware that their dog had any aggressive tendencies. Some states have a “one free bite rule”. This means that, if your dog bites another person, you can’t use the fact that he’s never bit someone before as a defense. Though there may be exceptions, under Utah law, the owner will usually be liable for any injuries the dog causes to another person.

Who’s Paying?

There are multiple parties that may have to pay for the injuries your dog has caused. Depending on the circumstances, your homeowner’s insurance may pay for injuries your dog has caused to another person. You could also pay for the other party’s injuries out of your pocket. Depending on where the incident took place, you may be able to sue the property owner in a premises liability claim. It may be possible to sue the apartment complex, landlord, or HOA as well. Certain HOAs and apartment complexes have breed restrictions and weight restrictions. If the dog who caused a person injury violated either of those restrictions, the HOA, apartment complex, or landlord, may be liable for the person’s injuries because they failed to enforce the restrictions.

Will Your Dog Be Euthanized?

A lot of victims of dog attacks demand that the dog be euthanized immediately. However, the victims do not have the right to decide what happens to the dog. Though there’s no hard and fast rule for when an aggressive dog must be euthanized, this decision is largely up to the discretion of the local animal control agency or officer. Animal control will likely look at multiple factors before determining whether or not a dog should be put down. For example, animal control would be less likely to put a dog down if the dog has no bite history and attacked a person breaking into the home. However, Animal Control would be more likely to put a dog down who had caused serious injuries to humans on multiple occasions.

Preventing Dog Attacks

If you have a dog that has any aggressive tendencies, it’s better to be safer than sorry. Red collars and harnesses or leash sleeves that read “DO NOT PET” may reduce your liability if your dog bites someone while they’re on a walk. Muzzle training a dog is always a good idea since emergency situations at the vet can cause even friendly dogs to bite if excessive pain is involved. If you know your dog is aggressive, they should be wearing a muzzle that’s designed to keep them from biting. Your dog should always be on a leash when they aren’t confined in a backyard or home. This is true regardless of your dog’s temperament. With particularly large breeds, a collar may not be enough to sufficiently restrain the dog. Using an appropriate harness may help owners retain control over their dog and physically restrain them from biting someone.

Get the Legal Advice You Need

If you have been attacked by a dog, you do have legal options. At Moxie Law Group, we give our potential clients a free case analysis to help them decide whether or not it’s in their best interest to file a claim. People may be reluctant to come forward with their injuries out of fear that the dog may be euthanized. However, this is not always what happens. If you have been injured by a vicious animal, don’t wait! Many of these injuries can seriously impact a person’s quality of life. Don’t wait to get the legal advice and compensation you deserve. Contact Moxie Law Group today.