Many people have dogs for both companionship and protection: a study done on prison inmates revealed that most of the participants would be deterred from a home if a dog were living there. You trust your dog's instincts and know they would not likely attack a human or animal for no reason, but something has recently happened that has you concerned: your dog bit an uninvited person on your property.
You are concerned not only for your dog's welfare but also for the legalities of the situation - who is at fault? What will happen to your dog? Can you be arrested for your dog's actions? With over 4 million dog bites occurring in the US yearly, your situation isn't unique in itself, but one aspect of it is the fact that your dog bit someone on its own turf who was not supposed to be there.
What happens now? Use this guide to discover what to expect when your dog bites unwelcome company.
You Face Potential Charges
Even if a person trespasses on your property and has no permission to be there, you are still at risk of being sued. You may live in a state where trespassers can sue dog owners and win their case, demanding you to pay any medical bills and additional funds for pain and suffering or loss of work.
Hire a lawyer when your dog bites someone, and they threaten to sue, particularly if someone called the police during the incident. Even if you live in a state where trespassers cannot legally sue for damages sustained on your property when they were uninvited, you may need a lawyer to prevent any potential lawsuits from gaining speed.
You Have to Prove the Person Was Trespassing
A trespasser must be proven to be on your property without your knowledge or permission to deem yourself less liable (or not liable at all) for your dog biting them. This can be tricky, as having a sign proclaiming no trespassing or written warnings against solicitation may not be enough to prove you did not allow the person bitten by your dog on your property.
If you cannot prove a person was trespassing on your land when your dog bit them, you have to then show evidence that you provided as much protection to keep your dog contained as possible. This includes proving you have a fenced-in property, your dog is not allowed outdoors unattended, or that you keep your canine contained on a chain or in a kennel when they are outside.
Providing information to your lawyer that you keep your dog, as well as any visitors protected from harm, will help strengthen your case and prove you are not liable for the dog bite via providing a standard of care on your property.
You Have to Prove Your Dog Was in the Right
In addition to proving a trespasser was not allowed on your property, you have to prove your dog is not naturally or normally aggressive. Your lawyer will ask for witnesses to the dog bite to strengthen your side of the case as well as procure documentation that your dog is non-aggressive. You can obtain this information by getting recommendations from your dog's vet, outside friends and family who have interacted with your dog in the past, and via proving that your dog is not an at-large menace with your municipality.
When your dog bites a person, you need to call a lawyer right away to protect your dog's rights as well as your own. Our skilled legal team at Bernstein & Bernstein Attorneys at Law are here to protect you in a variety of legal situations.