Plainfield, IN asked in Animal / Dog Law and Personal Injury for Indiana

Q: If my 2 year old dog bit someone that grabbed her by the collar to stop her running off, am I liable?

My daughter opened the front door when her friend came over and our dog almost ran out the house. The adult who was dropping off my daughter's friend grabbed the dog's collar to stop her getting out and apparently the dog bit her. The woman left and did not say she was bitten until almost an hour later. I appologised, offered to pay medical bills, and provide any of my dogs paperwork if needed but as far as we know she didn't report it or go to the hospital. What possible ramifications could we face and what is the statute of limitations for her to take legal actions. Also my dog is less than 2 and is not trained we have only had her for 9 days.

1 Lawyer Answer

A: I can only answer your question with certainty based on Utah law, but in most states yes, you are strictly liable for the actions of your dog. Strict liability means that regardless of fault by you, or any knowledge that your pet might bite someone, by simply owning a pet you are responsible for their actions...even if someone provoked your dog. The famous quote by Gerry Spence in a closing argument on a case like this is "if the lion got away [owner] gotta pay."

Now, some states allow a defense of comparative fault of the victim. But, likely the best way to protect yourself here is to let your homeowner's insurance know about the incident, and let them handle the defense.

If you don't have homeowner's insurance, then you should consult with counsel in your state about the best way to defend the case, and/or whether you should consider settlement options.

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