A child hugging a pitbull.

A homeowner invites over family for a holiday dinner at her residence. One of the guests is a young child who loves to pet the homeowner’s dog, a Pitbull, when she visits. Before dinner, the family sits in the den and partakes in conversation as the child pets the dog. Suddenly, the dog quickly turns and bites with a clenched jaw on the arm of the child, resulting in serious lacerations and a broken bone in her arm. The victim of the attack has a potential dog bite lawsuit against the homeowner.

Owner’s Liability and Duty

A photo of a dog.In order for a property owner to be responsible for your injuries, they must have owed you a “duty of reasonable care.” This is a complex legal concept, but ultimately, if you were invited onto the property in some way, then the property owner owes you a “duty of reasonable care.” The property owner is required to make sure that its property is safe for everyone they allow to be on it.

The property owner must have known, or should have known, that the dangerous condition existed. This is sometimes tricky, because in certain situations a dangerous condition can occur suddenly and unexpectedly. But property owners have a responsibility to act promptly when they know of a dangerous condition. In the example above, the homeowner should have known that there was a potentially dangerous condition, as Pitbulls are statistically the most dangerous breed of dog, and the homeowner had a duty to make sure that the dog would behave and not bite.

Owner Must Breach the Duty

A dog on the couch before biting his victim.

If a property owner did not properly maintain their property, which in the above example would be the dog, this is called a “breach” of the duty of care. This means that the owner failed to do the things that it was legally required to do. If it can be found that the owner had a duty, but the injury occurred anyways, there was very likely a breach of that duty.

In the example above, the homeowner allowed for the petting of the dangerous dog, which was a breach of her duty of care. However, a dog bite statute may do away with the requirement that defendant knew or should have known about the dog’s aggressiveness, as discussed here.

The Dog Bite Must Cause the Injury

A person's leg bandaged after a dog bite.The injury that you are suffering from must have been caused by or worsened by the accident itself. A vital element in all dog bite cases, regardless of the law or the statute that has been enacted, is that the bite actually caused some kind of harm. If the damage was minimal, the recovery will be minimal. However, that damages for pain and suffering including emotional damages can have lifelong effects on the victim.

Why Hire Us?

A personal injury lawyer is discussing a case with his two clients.If you were injured as a result of a dog bite anywhere in Rhode Island, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering, among other losses. For a free (no obligation) case evaluation, call our toll free number at 1-800-992-6878 or fill out a contact form on our website. Our experienced dog bite lawyers can file a dog bite lawsuit on your behalf and they charge no fee unless you receive an award or settlement.