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Who is responsible for dog bite injuries?

The concept of premises liability holds property owners financially liable for injuries that occur on their property due to a dangerous condition that they were aware of or should have known about. Most Louisiana residents may think of slip-and-fall injuries, or those caused by falling objects when they think of premises liability claims. However, such a claim may exist for dog bites as well under certain circumstances. Many people may be curious to know then, what are the requirements of a dog bite premises liability claim, and are any defenses available to property owners for such a claim?

Assessing liability for a dog bite is typically based on who the owner of the dog is; however, other potentially responsible parties include parents of a child if the child owns the dog, landlords for pets of tenants, and those responsible for caring for an animal. As it relates to premises liability, the property owner where a dog resides may be liable for any injuries caused by the pet. In some states, the responsible party has liability under a strict liability theory, meaning that the dog bite alone is enough to make them financially liable for any injuries.

Other states apply the dangerous propensities theory, in which those responsible are held liable for dog bit injuries if they knew or should have know that their pet is dangerous to others. Proving this awareness is difficult, as the pet owner may need to assess whether their pet is dangerous, or alternatively, if the breed of dog that they own is notoriously dangerous.

Those injured by a dog bite should be aware that there are defenses available to property owners for these claims. An injured person may have been provided adequate warning that the dog was dangerous, but chose to ignore the signs when interacting with the dog. Additionally, if it is found that the victim provoked the dog in some way, the property owner would likely not be liable for any ensuing attack by the animal.

Those attacked by a dog should be aware of their potential right to compensation as a result. A personal injury attorney can assist a victim in assessing their claim and dealing with the complexities of premises liability actions.

Source: Findlaw, "Dog Bites and Animal Attack Overview," accessed on May 10, 2015

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