Am I Legally Responsible If My Dog Bites Someone?

It depends. If your dog does not have a past history of violent behavior, and your dog is in a place that he lawfully has a right to be and bites another person you will not be liable. However, if your dog has a past history of violent behavior and you know of that behavior and your dog bites another person you will most likely be liable. When you have knowledge of your dog's past violent behavior and your dog bites someone you will be considered absolutely liable. This means that you can be held liable for any injuries that your dog causes regardless of whether you were negligent in supervising your dog or whether there was any wrongdoing on your part. Simply knowing of your dog's past violent behavior is enough to impose liability if your dog bites someone.

In some cases liability may be imposed under the principles of general negligence even if a dog has no history of past violent behavior. However, these cases are rare and liability without knowledge of past violent behavior is usually only found if the owner is extremely negligent in caring for their dog, which resulted in the dog injuring another human being.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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