Anyone who has been menaced by a dog knows how terrifying that can be. Dog owners and handlers are legally required to keep their pets under control and protect others from injury. Unfortunately, not all owners understand their responsibilities.

If a canine has bitten you or caused injury in some way, you have the right to file a claim against the owner with the aid of a Chardon dog bite lawyer. You might be eligible to recover damages for any injuries or property damage you suffered because of someone else’s dog. Consult with a local personal injury attorney to find out your legal rights and options for compensation.

Dogs Considered Inherently Dangerous

Even the friendliest dog can cause serious damage if it bites with intent. Sometimes they can cause an injury accidentally, such as excitedly jumping on someone. They might be calm around humans but aggressive around other pets or livestock. State law considers some dogs inherently dangerous if they have a certain capacity for harm.

The owner or handler of a dog must keep it under control at all times and take whatever proactive steps are necessary to protect others from harm. If a dog has bitten people in the past, the law sets forth specific requirements that the owner must adhere to. These include keeping the dog confined or on a leash that is six feet long or shorter and keeping it in the control of a person who can handle the animal.

What Does Strict Liability Mean?

Ohio’s law regarding liability for injuries or property damage caused by dogs, Ohio Revised Code § 955.28(B), is a strict liability statute. Strict liability means that if a plaintiff can prove that a defendant’s dog caused injuries or property damage, the defendant will be deemed liable. The plaintiff does not need to prove that the dog’s owner or handler was negligent or knew that it was aggressive.

When a local animal attack attorney brings a lawsuit under the Ohio dog statute and wins, the owner will be liable to the plaintiff for compensatory damages. Compensatory damages typically include medical expenses, payments for time lost from work, reimbursement for property damage, mental anguish, and pain and suffering.

Asserting Negligence Offers Potential for Punitive Damages

A plaintiff also has the option of asserting negligence against a defendant dog keeper. Proving negligence is a multi-step process: The plaintiff’s attorney must establish that the defendant breached a duty to the plaintiff, the breach caused the dog to attack, and the attack caused the plaintiff actual harm.

An experienced Chardon dog injury lawyer might advise a claimant to pursue a negligence claim if the dog caused severe physical injuries or if it had a history of misbehavior. When the plaintiff’s attorney can prove that an owner knew a dog was vicious, and the owner acted with disregard or indifference to the harm the animal might cause, punitive damages may be available.

Punitive damages punish a defendant for wrongdoing by awarding extra money to the plaintiff. It is meant to deter egregious behavior. Ohio law sets punitive damages at no more than twice the amount of compensatory damages, with a cap of $350,000.

Consult a Dog Bite Attorney to Determine Next Steps

If a dog has bitten you, you have a limited amount of time to decide your next steps. Injured persons have only two years to bring a lawsuit in most cases. Once the threat of a lawsuit has passed, dog owners and their insurance companies have no incentive to settle.

Consulting with a Chardon dog bite lawyer soon after the incident could put you in the best position to negotiate for adequate compensation. Contact the office of Tittle & Perlmuter to schedule a case review.

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