For dog bite cases, strict liability and the “one bite” rule apply
In Rhode Island, we live in a heavy urban and suburban area, meaning that we interact with many types of people every day. It also means that sooner or later, we’re going to interact with people who are also pet owners as well. The vast majority of these interactions are pleasant, but sometimes, animals feel threatened and will lash out, causing injuries that can be serious.
We are experienced in dog and animal bites cases, and as such, we divide these types of cases into whether or not the attacks took place on an owner’s property or not.
To help our clients recover damages from a dog bite, we apply the law of “strict liability” for animal attack incidents that take place when a person is not on an owner’s property.
Strict liability is the legal concept that holds a dog owner liable under all circumstances if the dog “assaults, bites, or injures” a person or an animal belonging to a person. It covers more than just bites. For example, if an excited dog jumps up and knocks a person down, causing cuts, broken bones or other similar injuries, an owner is liable in that instance as well.
Rhode Island is a bit unique when it comes to dog bite cases. While strict liability laws are in place, dog bite injuries are treated differently if the dog’s actions take place on their owners’ property instead of injuries that dogs cause anywhere else.
If a person is attacked and injured by a dog on the owner’s property, then the strict liability dog bite laws will not apply. Instead, Rhode Island has a “one bite” rule that injured parties must seek compensation under.
The “one bite” rule says that an owner is liable for a dog bite injury that took place on their property only if they knew the dog would act in an aggressive way against people visiting the property. The “one bite” rule comes into play if it can be shown that the dog was guilty of at least one prior bite, demonstrating a pattern that can be used as evidence in a court of law. In exchange for this as meeting the burden of proof, injured parties may not use premises liability laws to make their case against the dog and property owner.
Calvino Law Associates serves clients in Providence, North Kingstown and nearby Rhode Island communities.