Dog Bite Laws to Know in Ohio

Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Michelle Martin with The Martin Law Firm.

Dog Bite Laws to Know in Ohio
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Every state has slightly different laws regarding dog bite liability. Ohio, like many states, practices strict liability regarding dog bites, although there may be certain exceptions depending on the situation. In Ohio, the statute applying to dog bites also applies to other injuries caused by dogs, such as a large dog jumping up and knocking someone down. In most cases, the dog’s owner will be considered legally responsible for any resulting damages.

Ohio is a strict liability state in regard to dog bites.

According to Ohio Revised Code Section 955.28(B), the “owner, keeper, or harborer” of a dog is liable for any injury the animal causes in most situations. Unlike other states which practice the “one-bite” rule, even if the injury is the dog’s first offense, the injured party may be eligible to file a lawsuit.

The strict liability approach to dog bites means that the injured person does not need to prove that the injury occurred due to the owner’s negligence. In other states, an injured party may have to prove that the animal’s owner failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent the attack to be eligible to make a recovery.

Some exceptions to strict liability include when the bite occurred during a criminal offense.

For example, if the attack victim was committing some kind of criminal act at the time of the injury, the dog’s owner may not be liable for resulting damages. A common defense against dog bite lawsuits arises when the injured party was trespassing at the time of the attack, in which case Ohio law may free the dog’s owner from liability.

Similarly, if the injured person was “teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog” prior to the attack, the animal’s owner may be able to argue that they should not be held liable for resulting damages. However, if the injury occurred under any other circumstances, the dog’s owner will most likely be considered liable in court.

Damages that can be claimed in a dog bite lawsuit may include:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Wages lost during recovery
  • Compensation for physical/emotional pain and suffering

These are just a few examples of the damages that might be applicable in a dog bite lawsuit; however, the damages can vary significantly on a case-by-case basis. Generally, a more severe injury will call for further damages, whereas a relatively minor injury may only require a few different types.

The best way dog owners can protect themselves and their pups is by taking precautions.

Although it is not necessary after a dog bite in Ohio to prove that the dog’s owner was negligent, taking precautions never hurts. Installing or repairing fences and gates and keeping the dog leashed or kenneled around unknown parties is a good way to protect others, your dog, and yourself from liability. Socializing dogs from a young age and pursuing professional training is another good way to ensure that your dog is safe in all kinds of environments around all kinds of people.

Finally, it’s important to be honest about your dog’s temperament and behavior. A dog that is skittish or has displayed signs of discomfort or even mild aggression may be more likely to bite if frightened; dogs that may be more likely to bite should receive additional attention in regard to training and other attack precautions.

To learn more about dog bite laws in Ohio, reach out to a dog bite attorney in the state.

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