Legal theories are the laws upon which you anchor your case when pursuing a legal redress. If you have been attacked by a dog, here are the three main legal theories you can use to pursue compensation:
Negligence is a legal theory that holds you responsible for damages that arise when your carelessness (that may be through action or inaction) causes property damage or injury. For you to succeed with a dog bite claim based on negligence, you must prove that:
· The dog owner owed you the duty of keeping their dog from injuring others
· The dog owner breached this duty and the dog ended up injuring others
· The actions or inaction of the dog owner caused you injury
· The defendant knew or should have known that their action or inaction would cause an injury
· You have suffered actual harm as a result of the dog owner's negligence
Prove all these things and the court will award you damages commensurate with your losses.
One Bite Rule
The one bite rule is so named because, traditionally, a dog owner was "allowed" one free dog bite to learn that their animal is dangerous; they would be held responsible for any attack after that first attack. Contemporarily, the one bite rule means that a dog owner is liable for the actions of their dog as long as the dog owner knows (or should know) that their animal is dangerous. A dog owner should know that their dog is dangerous, and can attack others, if:
· The dog has attacked other people or dogs in the past
· The dog belongs to a dangerous breed (a breed with a high statistic of attacks)
· How the dog owner uses the animal; for example, they should know the dog can attack others if they use it as a guard dog
The legal principle of strict liability, as applied to dog bites, holds that a dog owner is responsible for their dog's actions even if they were neither negligent or didn't know that the animal was dangerous. If you are in a state that uses the strict liability principle for dog bites, and you have been attacked by a dog, all you need to prove is that you did not provoke the dog and you had the legal right to be where you were attacked.
The good news is that you don't have to worry about which legal theory fits your case if you have been attacked by a dog. Just take your case to a personal injury attorney and let them worry about the legal theories. Contact professionals like Radano & Lide for more information.