Being bitten by a dog is a traumatic experience with potentially life-changing ramifications. A Columbus dog bite lawyer can help if you or a member of your family has been attacked.
We love dogs at Colombo Law. In our experience, most people have overwhelmingly positive associations with man’s best friend. Unfortunately, the close relationship between humans and dogs means that it is easy to forget that dogs are animals that can become aggressive for a number of different reasons – or for seemingly no reason at all.
Dog bites need to be taken seriously from both a medical and a legal perspective. You should speak to a Columbus dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your right to compensation after a dog attack.
Colombo Law has extensive experience handling dog bite injury claims and other premises liability cases. Please call (614) 362-7000 today for a free consultation with a Columbus dog bite lawyer.
What Is the Dog Bite Law in Ohio?
Ohio applies a strict liability standard to personal injury arising from dog bites. You do not have to show negligence on the part of the owner, keeper, and/or harborer of the dog to recover damages. Rather, you must simply present evidence that the dog was owned by or in the care of the party or parties in question.
Strict liability does not mean the right to personal injury damages is absolute after a dog bite. Ohio Revised Code § 955.28(B) sets the following exceptions to recovery in a dog bite claim:
- The claimant was “committing or attempting to commit criminal trespass or another criminal offense other than a minor misdemeanor” on the property or against the person “of the owner, keeper, or harborer.”
- The claimant was “teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog on the owner’s, keeper’s, or harborer’s property.”
The strict liability standard (as well as the exceptions above) also apply in cases of wrongful death arising from a dog bite. A Columbus dog bite lawyer can review your case and identify your legal options if you or a member of your family was hurt or a relative was killed by a dog.
Who Is Liable for a Dog Bite in Ohio?
Legally, the owner is the principal party responsible for the behavior of the dog and any injuries or damages the dog may cause. However, as you can see above, Ohio law also recognizes two additional parties that may be held liable for dog bite injuries:
- Keepers have temporary control and possession of the dog. Examples include dog walkers, kennels, etc.
- A harborer is the individual or entity that owns and/or controls the premises where the dog and its owner reside. This may include the owner of a home, an apartment complex, a commercial business, etc.
It is critical to identify the party liable for your dog bite injuries and subsequent damages. A Columbus dog bite lawyer can determine who was responsible for the dog at the time of the attack and evaluate the available insurance coverage.
What If I Am Accused of Causing the Dog Bite?
Both the owners, keepers, and harborers of dogs and their insurance companies often try to argue that victims are responsible if they get bitten by a dog. They might claim that you provoked the dog or that you were trespassing in an effort to avoid liability for injuries and damages.
It can be difficult to prove a negative (i.e., show that you weren’t engaging in behavior that would absolve the owner, keeper, or harborer and its insurer of liability). Eyewitness testimony is crucial for countering accusations of wrongdoing on your part and placing the blame where it truly belongs.
Witnesses and documentary evidence can also help to support your dog bite claim if you entered the premises “solely for the purpose of engaging in door-to-door sales or other solicitations.” Ohio law provides legal protection to salespeople, volunteers, and other individuals who go door to door “regardless of whether the individual was in compliance with any requirement to obtain a permit or license.”
The dog’s owner and/or the insurer may still try to argue that you were on the premises unlawfully. It is crucial to speak to a Columbus dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected.
Can I Sue for a Dog Bite in Ohio?
The Ohio dog bite law covers any injuries caused by a dog. If you have been bitten, scratched, knocked over, or suffered any other type of injury caused by someone else’s dog, you generally have the right to bring a claim against the owner of the dog or another party responsible for the animal.
You may have a viable claim if you suffer any of the following dog-related injuries:
- Dog bite puncture wounds
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Injuries to the head, neck, and face
- Trauma to the eye
- Damage to soft tissue such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments (particularly in the extremities)
- Nerve damage
- Emotional trauma from the dog attack
Dog bite claims must be supported by strong evidence. It is crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible after being bitten by a strange dog and ensure that your injuries are thoroughly documented. Likewise, you need to account for all of the losses (economic and non-economic) you sustain as a result of the dog bite injury.
Can I Get Compensation for Being Bitten by a Dog?
Victims of dog bites and other injuries may be entitled to significant compensation. A Columbus dog bite lawyer will review your claim thoroughly to identify all of the damages that may be recoverable in your case.
Dog bite attorneys at Colombo Law will pursue compensation for all of the losses you and your family have experienced. This may include:
- Current medical expenses
- The cost of future medical care, surgery, rehabilitation, counseling, etc.
- Lost wages to date
- The loss of earning capacity (i.e., future income)
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The aftermath of a dog bite injury can be expensive. Dog attacks also carry significant physical, psychological, and emotional costs, especially for young children.
A Columbus dog bite lawyer can collect evidence on your behalf and speak to doctors and other experts to fully understand the extent of the injuries and damages in your case. Hiring a dog bite attorney is the best way to protect your rights and improve the likelihood of achieving a favorable outcome.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Claims in Ohio?
There are several important time limits to know about when it comes to dog bite claims in Ohio:
- All actions for personal injury (including dog bite claims) must be brought within 2 years of the cause of action (i.e., the date the dog bit you) (see Ohio Revised Code § 2305.10).
- If a child is bitten by a dog, the claim must be brought no later than 2 years from the date the victim turns 18 (see Ohio Revised Code § 2305.16).
- Wrongful death claims (including those stemming from dog bites and dog attacks) are subject to a 2-year statute of limitations (see Ohio Revised Code § 2125.02). The time limit starts on the date of the victim’s death.
No matter the outcome of the dog bite, it is of the utmost importance to take timely legal action. You might not need to file a lawsuit to seek compensation, but you do not want to wait and miss your chance to recover the damages you and your family have suffered.
Do I Need a Dog Bite Lawyer?
Many people wonder if it is really necessary to hire a lawyer after a personal injury. The question can be especially complicated when a dog bite is involved, as it is not uncommon for victims to assume that insurance will cover the cost of the injury and further legal action won’t be needed.
In reality, however, all dog bites should be taken seriously. What’s more, if the dog bite leaves you with permanent, life-altering injuries or the attack results in the death of someone you love, you owe it to yourself to consult a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible.
There are many advantages to hiring a dog bite attorney. First and foremost, a knowledgeable lawyer can handle the complex issues involved in your claim while you and your family take the time you need to recover from the ordeal. This includes:
- Investigating the attack and identifying the owner, keeper, or harborer of the dog that bit you
- Collecting evidence on your behalf such as photos, witness testimony, etc.
- Reviewing your medical records to assess the severity of your injuries
- Consulting expert witnesses about your injuries, the economic and non-economic impact, etc.
- Determining the total value of damages in your dog bite claim
Next, a Columbus dog bite lawyer can bring a claim against the insurance company. At this point, your attorney’s goal will be to negotiate a favorable settlement.
Finally, a dog bite lawyer can file a lawsuit and prepare your case for trial if a fair settlement is not forthcoming. Most dog bite claims settle out of court. However, if it becomes necessary to sue the owner of the dog to recover the compensation you deserve, your attorney needs to be willing and able to go to court.
Initially, a dog bite case might seem straightforward. The dog bit you, so the owner should be responsible for your bills.
While this might be legally correct, fair compensation for a dog bite injury is not guaranteed. Insurance companies will try to pay you as little as they can. Furthermore, dog bite victims typically don’t know all of the damages to which they may be entitled. If you try to handle the case on your own, you might settle for less than you deserve.
At Colombo Law, our attorneys are committed to recovering maximum compensation on behalf of those who have been seriously injured or lost family due to dog attacks. We are distinguished by the fact that we prepare every case as though it will go to trial. This approach ensures that we are ready to exercise all options for obtaining the optimal result in your dog bite case.
For a free case review, please call Colombo Law at (614) 362-7000 today. Our dog bite lawyers serve clients in Columbus and throughout Ohio.