Chapter 2 – Ohio Dog Bite Laws

Dog Bite LawsOhio is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites.  This means if you or a loved one is bitten by a dog anywhere in the state of Ohio, the dog’s OwnerHarborer, or Keeper will be held liable for any injuries and damages caused by the dog without you having to prove that he or she was negligent.

A dog bite victim must only prove that he or she was bitten by a dog and that dog’s bite caused an injury or other type of damage.

Who is Liable for a Dog Bite under Ohio Law

Owner of a Dog

While the definition of an Owner of a dog is fairly straightforward, the definition of a Harborer or Keeper of a dog can be more difficult to determine.

Harborer of a Dog

A “Harborer” is a person who controls the place where a dog lives.  For example, if a dog and its owner lived with the owner’s parents, then the parents would be considered harborers of the dog.  This definition would seem to include landlords. However, most Ohio courts have found that landlords are not responsible for the actions of a tenant’s dog.  One exception to this rule would be if the rental property had a common area and the dog bite occurred in the common area.  In this circumstance, the landlord may be considered a harborer and thus liable for the dog bite.

Keeper of a Dog

A “Keeper” is a person who maintains control over the dog, even if on a temporary basis. If a friend of the dog’s owner walks the dog on a leash, the friend is temporarily the “keeper” of the dog.  If the dog were to break free and bite someone, the friend may be liable as the dog’s “Keeper.”

Other Important Pieces of Ohio Dog Bite Law

Exceptions to the Strict Liability Law in Ohio

There are a few exceptions to Ohio’s strict liability.  If the victim of a dog bite was criminally trespassing or attempting to trespass, or was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog, the dog’s Owner, Harborer, or Keeper will not be held liable for the dog bite.

How Long You Have to File a Claim (Statute of Limitations)

A dog bite victim in Ohio has six (6) years from the date of the bite in which to file a lawsuit against the dog’s Owner, Harborer, or Keeper.

The time frame is longer for children.  A child who is bitten by a dog has six (6) years beyond his or her eighteenth birthday in which to file a lawsuit.

Liability of a Owner, Keeper or Harborer of a Dog: Ohio Revised Code, Title IX, Chapter 955.28 (B)

The liability of an owner, keeper or harborer of a dog is set for in this section of Ohio law as follows:

Required Duties After a Dog Bites a Person: Ohio Revised Code, Title IX, Chapter 955.261

This section of Ohio law dictates what must be done after a dog bites someone. The requirements include:

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