Chapter 9 – Common Law Implications with Dog Bites

Dog Bite Common Law NegligenceIn Chapter 2, we discussed specific Ohio laws for dog bites. In Chapter 6, we discussed specific Ohio laws for dogs labeled as dangerous and vicious. The laws covered in these chapters hold a dog’s owner, harborer or keeper strictly liable for the injuries and damages caused by their dog.

The term “strictly liable” means the dog’s owner, harborer or keeper is liable regardless of whether or not they did anything wrong. You simply need to prove their dog attacked and the attacked caused you injuries or damages.

In addition to strict liability, there is another basis of liability to hold a dog’s owner, harborer or keeper responsible for injuries and damages. In Ohio, the dog’s owner, harborer or keeper can also be held liable under common law negligence.

Dog Bite Claims Under Common Law Negligence

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that a victim of a dog bite (plaintiff) can pursue claims simultaneously under both the state’s specific dog bite statutes and for common law negligence. In a common law action for injuries caused by a dog, the victim (plaintiff) must show the following:

  1. The defendant (dog’s owner, harborer or keeper) owned or harbored the dog.
  2. The dog was vicious.
  3. The defendant knew of the dog’s viciousness.
  4. The dog was kept in a negligent manner after the defendant knew of the dog’s viciousness.

With common law actions, punitive damages may be awarded. This means compensation can be sought in excess of actual damages.

Back to chapter 8

Go to chapter 10

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