Dog Bite Laws in Utah
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Kevin Swenson with Swenson & Shelley Injury Attorneys.
Every state has slightly different rules regarding who is legally responsible for an animal attack and the resulting damages, such as medical bills and pain and suffering. The eligibility requirements for filing a dog bite injury claim can also vary from state to state, but Utah does not typically require the injured to prove any kind of negligence on the part of the dog’s owner; this approach is referred to as strict liability and is just one of the many reasons it’s important for pet owners to be honest about their dog’s behavior and take precautions to prevent their animal from causing any kind of damage.
Utah is a strict liability state in regard to dog bites.
Like many other states, Utah takes a strict liability approach to dog bite cases. This means that regardless of whether or not the dog’s owner knew or should reasonably have known that their dog was potentially aggressive, they are liable for any resulting damages. This is unique from the other states that practice the one-bite rule in regard to dog bites, which typically means that an owner may not be liable for their dog’s behavior if the dog had never bitten or shown signs of aggression before. In some states, it may also be required to prove that the dog’s owner was negligent in some way that allowed the attack to occur, but this is not the case in Utah. The same goes for injuries caused by animals other than biting; for example, if a large dog jumps up and knocks someone over.
Dog bite victims typically have four years from the date of the attack to file a claim.
This window of time or “statute of limitations” can vary from state to state, and after it passes, the injured party is no longer eligible to seek legal recourse. Damages that can be sought depending on the severity of the situation may include medical bills, lost wages, cost of therapy, and more. However, if the dog’s owner can prove that the bite victim was provoking the animal or committing a criminal act at the time of the attack, they may be able to defend themselves from liability. Another exception to the strict liability dog bite rule is if the bite was the result of apprehension by a trained law enforcement dog.
The best way to protect yourself and others as a dog owner is to take precautions.
Even if your dog has only ever expressed friendly and non-dangerous personality traits, it’s still a good idea to take basic precautions, such as keeping the animal leashed or kenneled around unfamiliar people or animals, taking the animal to appropriate behavior training from an early age, and being honest about any potential changes, developments, or warning signs in the animal’s behavior. People love their pets, which can make it difficult to acknowledge that an animal might have aggressive tendencies in certain situations; however, acknowledging these tendencies and safeguarding against any situation in which these tendencies might cause an injury is the best way to protect your dog, yourself, and others.
To learn more about dog bite laws in Utah, or for help filing a claim, reach out to an experienced dog bite attorney in your area.