State Dog Bite Laws

Depending on where you live, state dog bite laws may make determining owner liability a very complicated issue. Although a few general observations can be made about dog bite law nationwide, at the state level, differing laws, common interpretations and the layers of municipal and city code require examination on a state by state basis.

Strict Liability or One Bite?

At the state level, dog bite laws create two levels of owner liability. The most common is strict liability, also known as strict statutory liability. In these states, the dog bite laws make the owner responsible for any injuries inflicted by the dog, regardless of whether the owner had any knowledge that the dog had a propensity to attack. Many strict liability states make exemptions to owner liability in cases of trespass or provocation, and individual municipalities within a state may create other exemptions as well.

Some state dog bite laws shield the owner from liability if he or she had no knowledge that the dog had a propensity to attack. These dog bite laws are sometimes collectively called the “one bite rule.” In a one bite rule state, the owner is protected from liability for the first dog bite injury. After the first dog bite injury, the owner is assumed to have knowledge that the dog has a propensity to attack, and is no longer shielded from liability.

Dog Bite Law Negligence

Even in states with the one bite rule, dog owners may be liable for the injuries caused by an animal attack based on negligence. Some one bite rule states have weakened liability protection for owners by placing more importance on acts (or omission of acts) that create a public danger, such as violations of leash law, failure to maintain control of an animal and similar statutes.

Local Dog Bite Lawyers

If you or someone you care for has been bitten by a dog or injured in an animal attack, please contact an experienced dog bite lawyer who is familiar with your state’s dog bite laws. The best dog bite lawyer for your case will understand how the state laws as well as any municipal codes or city laws affect your ability to get compensation for a dog bite injury.