In jurisdictions that lack strict liability laws on dog bites, a plaintiff must prove that the dog’s owner knew (or should have known) that the animal had a tendency to bite. The list below details some common factors used to demonstrate an owner’s knowledge of an animal’s tendencies. This list is not complete and proving the elements listed cannot guarantee that Dulaney Lauer & Thomas LLP will win the case.
Animal Size and Breed
Typically, larger animals are more likely to cause injury. An animal’s breed can also be relevant if it can be proven that the breed has a tendency to be vicious; Rottweilers and pit bulls are good examples.
The Animal’s Purpose
If the dog is kept for protective purposes, and it is attack-trained, it may be inferred that the dog’s owner knew of its tendency to attack.
Biting and Snapping
A previous record of aggressive actions may be used to prove that a dog owner knew of the animal’s propensity to be vicious. Even if a dog has never attacked a person and has only attacked another animal, that can be used to prove its viciousness.
If others have complained to the dog’s owner and that person didn’t do enough to prevent future bites, their inactivity can be used as proof of the owner’s knowledge.
If a dog’s owner keeps it locked away or on a chain, this may prove that the owner knows the animal could be a danger to others. If the owner muzzles the dog when it’s outside or when others are nearby, it can document an awareness of the dog’s vicious tendencies.
If the owner puts up a warning sign, a victim can use it to prove that the defendant was aware of the dog’s viciousness.
Owner Statements and Warnings
A statement made by an animal owner on past aggressive behavior or attacks is relevant to their awareness of the potential for future attacks. A verbal warning given to another can show that an owner is concerned that the animal may harm someone else.
When preparing to speak to a dog bite attack lawyer, the victim should learn about state law and consider the factors listed above. By learning about the animal’s past, a victim and their dog bite attack lawyer can build a solid case even in the absence of strict liability laws.