The following article was written by Attorney Jason M. Sayre at the Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz, LLP:

Common law negligence and dog attacksIn Ohio, there is a strict liability statute that makes a dog’s owner, harborer, or keeper liable for any injury caused by the dog.  Even though this strict liability statute exists, there still remains a common law negligence cause of action for dog bite victims to pursue.

Under the common law, a dog bite victim suing for damages inflicted by a dog under a theory of general negligence must show: 1) the defendant owned or harbored the dog; 2) the dog was vicious; 3) the defendant knew of the dog’s viciousness; and 4) the defendant was negligent in keeping the dog.

One major difference between the two theories of liability is that a dog’s harborer cannot sue the dog’s owner under the strict liability statute.  Ohio courts have reasoned that by enacting the dog bite statute, the Ohio legislature intended to protect only those people who are not in a position to control the dog.  A dog’s harborer, therefore, is excluded from seeking relief under the statue.

A dog’s harborer, however, may still file suit against the dog’s owner under a common law negligence theory of liability.  Therefore, harborer status is not a proper basis upon which to deny a common law negligence claim.  Although it is easier to prevail under the strict liability statute, the common law negligence theory of liability ensures that the courts remain open to certain classes of victims who would otherwise be denied justice.

If you or someone you know has become involved in a dog attack anywhere in Ohio, it’s important to know your rights and what extent of action you can take under Ohio law. The Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz offers FREE consultations so victims can ask questions and gain an understanding of how to proceed with a dog bite claim.  Please contact an experienced dog bite attorney at Slater & Zurz by calling 1-800-297-9191 or send a Blog Message to schedule a time to talk.

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