Dog bites and dog attacks have the potential to result in major, life-changing injuries. It is important to remember that victims of dog attacks may suffer permanent injuries that could cause scarring and disabilities. They may need cosmetic surgery to repair scarring or disfigurement and sometimes, even surgery cannot fix these issues.
In addition to physical injuries, dog bite victims also tend to suffer psychological trauma from the attack. Victims may go into depression or experience anxiety or symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Under Rhode Island law, dog bite victims can recover compensation for the injuries, damages and losses they have suffered.
Rhode Island’s Strict Liability Statute
Like many other states, Rhode Island has what is known as the “strict liability statute” when it comes to dog bites. The law states that the dog’s owner can be held financially responsible for the injuries and damages suffered by the victim unless the dog was within the owner’s enclosed area.
An “enclosed area” could be defined as any portion within the dog owner’s property, including fenced areas, which give a person notice that the enclosed area is private. If a dog bite occurred in the dog’s enclosed area or on the dog owner’s property, the victim must prove that the dog’s owner knew about the animal’s vicious nature. This is commonly referred to as the “one-bite rule.”
The dog owner is not liable for your personal injuries if the attack occurred within an enclosed area and if the dog’s owner or keeper had no prior knowledge of the dog’s vicious nature. However, you may be able to recover compensation if you were bitten on the dog owner’s property and you have evidence of the dog committing prior attacks.
The law also states that if a victim were to be attacked by a dog that previously behaved in an aggressive manner or injured someone, he or she would be entitled to double damages.
What the Law States
Here are some of the highlights of Rhode Island’s dog bite law:
- The law applies not just to dog owners but also to anyone who is a “keeper” of the dog. In other words, if a dog bites someone when it is under the care of an individual other than the owner, that person (the dog’s keeper or caretaker) can also be held liable for the attack.
- The strict liability statute covers any injury that brings the incident within the scope of this law, regardless of whether the injury was a bite. For example, if you fell and broke your arm because you were being chased by a dog because a dog pushed you down to the ground, you can seek compensation even if you did not suffer a bite.
- The victim in a dog bite case could be a human being, another dog or a domestic animal or a farm animal such as a pig, sheep, lamb or horse.
- The dog’s owner or keeper is liable for double damages if the same dog attacks again.
- When the statute does not apply, a dog owner or keeper can still be held liable for being negligent or breaking the law, such as a leash law, or for intentional conduct that causes the dog to attack or bite someone.
- Rhode Island’s dog bite law doesn’t only cover personal injuries from dog attacks. It also gives you the right to recover damages for any property damage caused by a dog. This means you can still file a claim if a dog causes damage to any of your personal property. For example, you can recover damages if a dog tears your clothes, damages your furniture, or injures your pet.
Contacting a Dog Bite Lawyer
Under Rhode Island law, dog bite victims have three years from the date of the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation. If the statute of limitations has passed, you may lose your right to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for your losses. This is why it is crucial that you promptly get in touch with an experienced Rhode Island dog bite lawyer who can help you understand the law and help evaluate the value of your case.
If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog in Rhode Island, you may be able to seek compensation for damages, including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitative treatments, permanent injuries (scarring and disfigurement), disabilities, cost of cosmetic surgeries, expenses related to psychological treatment or therapy, and past and future pain and suffering. Call the experienced Rhode Island Dog Bite Lawyers at d’Oliveira & Associates at 1-800-992-6878 for a no-cost consultation and case evaluation.