Most American states impose strict liability on the dog owner for dog bites or injuries. Under the legal theory of strict liability, it is not necessary to show the dog’s vicious tendency before a dog owner becomes liable to the person bitten. It does not require the injured person to prove the dog owner was negligent for him to be entitled to compensation. While there is a general trend that favors this strict liability among the states, Rhode Island adheres to the “One Bite” law, also known as the “One Free Bite Rule”.
Under the One Bite law, the owners are given one chance before they become accountable to a dog bite victim provided that the first attack occurs within an enclosure on the owner’s property. The dog’s enclosure is a space that gives due notice to anyone that he is entering “upon the occupied premises where there may be a dog.” Wilbur v. Gross. In this case, the law requires a fence, a gate, a barrier, or an obstruction, and also has a sign that warns the public that the area is private. It further requires that the owner or the keeper must not know of a dog’s vicious tendency in order to be free of liability for the dog’s first bite. Any dog that has bitten someone in the past qualifies as a dog with a vicious tendency. The second attack makes the owner liable, and the victim entitled to twice the damages.
Not every dog gets one free bite in Rhode Island. The RI Supreme Court’s decision in Johnston v. Poulin in 2004 summarized the dog bite law in ten words: “Strict liability attaches for any injury occurring outside the dog’s enclosure.” A dog owner or keeper, therefore, is always responsible for injuries when the dog causes such outside of its enclosure.
Here’s the Contact Information for a Qualified RI Dog Bite Attorney
Email us or call for a FREE, no obligation, dog bite case evaluation. For your convenience, our telephones are answered 24 hours a day and 7 days a week (1-800-992-6878.)d’Oliveira & Associates (one of our 15 locations):
Providence, RI 02909