In Ohio, the owner of a dog has strict liability for the control of that animal. This means that, unless the dog was being teased or a crime was being committed, the owner or keeper of a dog will be responsible for any injury, death, or personal loss caused by the dog.
Strict liability means that the injured person does not have to prove the owner was negligent in securing the dog, or have to prove that the owner had knowledge of the dog’s “dangerous propensities”. Only the actions of the dog itself determine liability under Ohio’s dog bite statute.
At the same time, the Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that a dog bite victim may sue under both the strict liability statute and under a negligence cause of action.
Pursuing both causes of action allows a dog bite victim in Ohio to also sue for punitive damages, which can triple the monetary damage award.
Damages that you may be entitled to recover from the owner or keeper of the dog that bit you or your child can include pain, mental suffering, permanent scarring, temporary or permanent disability, loss of future earning capacity, loss of quality-of-life, medical expenses to treat the injury, cosmetic services to improve the appearance of the injury, psychological counseling, damaged clothing, and loss of income. This list is by no means exhaustive.
Most of the time, any money that is recovered from the owner or keeper of the dog is covered by homeowner’s insurance.
What To Do When A Dog Bites You or Your Child
Only about one out of every six dog bites winds up with a serious injury and, hopefully, your injury is not serious. However, you should always take these precautions if you are attacked by a dog:
- Seek immediate medical treatment. Don’t worry about trying to sue someone, but do try to take photographs of the injuries before the treatment starts.
- Record the names of the dog owner or handler, and all witnesses, along with contact information.
- Report the incident immediately to your local animal control authority. Don’t think that the medical report from the emergency room will be a sufficient record of the incident.
- If the injury is serious, in that it requires stitches or surgery or a hospital stay, contact an attorney. The statute of limitations for a dog bite injury in the State of Ohio is six years. In the case of a minor, that six years begins on the child’s eighteenth birthday.
Ohio’s Dangerous Dogs Statutes
Ohio has a separate statute for pit bulls and other “dangerous dogs.” These animals are regulated under Ohio Revised Code Section 955.22. If one of them has bitten you, it may also be a crime.
What are those other dogs?
Besides pit bulls, the Centers for Disease Control has identified several breeds of dog which account for most dog bites in the country. These “high risk” breeds include:
- German Shepherds
- Alaskan Malamutes
- Doberman Pinschers
- Great Danes
- Saint Bernards
Pit bulls are considered dangerous by definition under Ohio law. All other dogs get a “one bite” rule, which means that the dog has had to show a “dangerous propensity” once before in its life.
Dangerous and vicious dogs must be penned in or securely tied under Ohio law.
In Ohio, the owner of a vicious dog must maintain a liability insurance policy providing coverage of not less than $100,000 for damages caused by the dog.
If you or your child has been bitten by a dog, please contact us by calling 1-800-297-9191 to discuss your case for free with an experienced Ohio dog bite lawyer or send us a message to schedule a time to talk.
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