Am I Responsible if My Dog Bites Someone at My Home?

Should a dog bite someone, that person can file a claim seeking compensation for damages caused by the bite. Most states have strict liability laws regarding dog bites which make the owner automatically responsible for dog-bite injuries. These strict liability statutes do not require the injured party to prove the owner was negligent or knew their dog was dangerous. However, do these strict liability statutes cover dog bites that happen in your home?

Should a dog bite a person in a public space or private residence, the owner of the dog is usually responsible. This means that in most states, if a dog bites someone in the owner’s home, the owner will be responsible for the damages. People can be considered keepers of or harbor the dog, as they assume the responsibility of exercising care, custody, and control of the dog. Control does not necessarily mean giving the dog commands or letting them in or out of the house. To be considered a keeper, the person has to exercise both dominion and control over the dog. Harboring a dog, on the other hand, is more than just allowing your dog briefly into your home. The requirements to be considered harboring a dog will be dependent on your state laws but in most cases, providing housing for the dog may be enough to make a homeowner responsible for a dog bite injury.

Strict liability statutes may not require the injured party to prove negligence on the owner’s part. The owner is usually automatically responsible for the injured party’s damages. Should you need to prove liability for a dog bite sustained in a private residence, you will need to:

  • Prove the attack was unprovoked and you were not riling the dog up in some manner that led to the bite. If you did rile up the dog, you may share some liability.
  • Prove you weren’t trespassing. Your claim will weaken if it’s found that you ignored “Keep Out” or “Beware of Dog” signs.
  • Prove that the dog had a history of biting someone. Strict liability statutes will usually not take the dog’s bite history into account since the “one bite rule” doesn’t apply anyway.
  • Prove that the dog was not a police or military dog. Sovereign immunity protects military or police dogs from lawsuits due to dog bite injuries.

If you’ve been bitten by a dog but are unsure whether you should sue for compensation, contact the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Dennis E. Block. We’ll help strengthen your case with our legal knowledge and guidance. Call us to schedule a consultation today.