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What you should

know on Dog Bites

& your Personal Liability

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Liability and Dog Bites

What's your liability if your dog bites someone?
The answer is pretty simple in the United States; you are
usually 100% liable if your dog bites someone. Depending on
what state you live in, there may be other factors or
greater liabilities, but if your dog bites someone, no
matter where you live, you are at the very least going to be
responsible for medical bills of the dog bite victim. Most
homeowners and renters insurance policies do have coverage
for this, however.

Many states also have aggressive dog laws, which could mean
that if the dog bite victim can prove that not only did your
dog bite them but that you had knowledge of prior aggressive
behavior there could be even bigger monetary judgments and
even the possibility of having to surrender your pet to
animal control for euthanization. Expenses from a dog bite
can range from medical bills to pain and suffering awards,
or even long term physical and emotional trauma issues for
the victim.

There is a statute of limitations on dog bites in most
states. If you believe a dog bite is the responsibility of a
government agency or employee, a Humane Society or the SPCA
you have 10 days from the time of the bite to file a
complaint. If the responsibility does not fall with one of
these parties you must file a complaint against the dog
owner or responsible party within 10 months of the injury.

Besides the dog's owner, other parties may sometimes have a
liability as well, including landlords and homeowner's
associations. The landlord's liability comes in when he
either knew that there was possibly an aggressive dog being
housed on his property by tenants or if a repair he should
have made, such as fixing a broken fence, would have stopped
the dog bite from happening.

Homeowner's associations have a similar liability as they
are contracted to keep the streets and common areas safe for
residents. If a homeowner's association is found to have
known there was a dangerous dog living in the neighborhood
or any dog running loose in violation of code but didn't
take action they also could be liable for any damages done
by the animal.

The very best way you can avoid being sued for your dog's
having bitten someone is to act as a responsible dog owner
and prevent its happening. Make sure your dog is always on a
leash when you are out. If a fence needs to be repaired or
another possible escape route needs to be secured, get it
done. Also, socialization and training goes a long way in
giving a dog a positive set of rules to use when interacting
with humans and other animals. Proactive prevention is the
best defense against liability.

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