What if I am Not Lawfully on Property when I am Bitten by a Dog?

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The type of dog a particular person chooses to bring into his or her home can say a lot about the personality of the dog owner. Regardless of the breed, a person who is bitten by a dog while that person is in a public place or lawfully in a private place can recover compensation for his or her injuries under a strict liability theory of recovery. Under this legal theory, the dog owner’s intention or carelessness in allowing the dog bite to occur is irrelevant: the fact that the dog bit you and you suffered injuries thereby is sufficient for a court to award you compensation in most cases.
What would happen to your case, though, if you were found to not be lawfully present in a private place when you were bit? For example, suppose you were playing ball with your child and a ball was thrown into your neighbor’s front yard. As you enter the yard (without permission) to retrieve the ball, your neighbor’s dog jumps from an open window and bites you in the arm. What are your options at this point?

If Strict Liability is Not Available, Look to Negligence

If you are not lawfully on private property when you are bitten, you may still be able to recover compensation for your dog bite injuries under a legal theory of negligence. Under this legal theory, you are alleging that the dog owner was careless in restraining the dog and protecting others from a bite and that this carelessness contributed to your injuries. This legal theory does focus on what the dog owner knew or should have known about his or her animal, including:

  • Does this animal have a history of running away? If so, the owner must use additional measures to restrain or confine the dog.
  • Could the owner foresee the dog biting a person in the location where the bite did occur? Whereas a bite may be likely if a person is walking across the dog owner’s front yard, a bite might be less foreseeable if it occurs in a fenced and locked backyard with a sign clearly posted that tells individuals to “Beware of dog.”
  • Does the dog’s breed have a history or reputation for aggressiveness? Dogs like Rottweilers and pitbulls routinely top the list of dog breeds most likely to bite another person. A person who owns one of these breeds should take extra measures to ensure the dog does not bite a person accidentally.

Where to Turn for Help After a Dog Bite Attack

Greenville dog bite lawyer, David R. Price, Jr., P.A. is available to help South Carolina residents who have been bitten by a dog. Even if you were not lawfully present in the place where the bite occurred, David R. Price, Jr., P.A. will review the facts of your case carefully to determine if you may be entitled to compensation under a different legal theory. Contact his office today for a free case evaluation by calling (864) 271-2636.


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