Utah law imposes “strict liability” on the owners of dogs who injure others. Even if the dog has never bitten before, and the owner has no advance notice that their dog may bite, the dog owner is still responsible. Claims against these dog owners is covered by Utah Code section 18-1-1. This statute says: “Every person owning or keeping a dog shall be liable in damages for injury committed by such dog, and it shall not be necessary in any action brought therefor to allege or prove that such dog was of a vicious or mischievous disposition or that the owner or keeper thereof knew that it was vicious or mischievous.”
Under the statute, the dog doesn’t even have to sink his teeth into his victim for the dog owner to be responsible. If the dog startles the victim to the point that they injure themselves trying to get away, the owner is still liable under the statute. For example, a postal worker trying to get away from a snarling dog, who twists then his ankle, would have a claim against the owner of the dog.
One reason why a dog owner may not be responsible is if the dog bite victim provoked the dog by yelling at him, taunting him, teasing or tormenting him. Children, however, can’t be blamed for merely petting or playing with a dog, unless they were warned not to do so. At any rate, children cannot be expected to appreciate the dangers of a dog like an adult can.
If a dog’s owner is responsible for the dog bite, they can be expected to be responsible for the victim’s medical bills, including future plastic surgery revisions, for the pain, suffering and emotional distress as well as having to live with scars and scaring that may never go away.
The problems that arise in these cases don’t come from being unable to hold the dog owner accountable – this usually is not a problem. The problem come from not being able to find money to pay for the often serious injuries that can arise from a dog bite. The most common scenario in this situation is that the dog owner is a renter, who doesn’t have renter insurance. The reality is that unless the dog owner has home owners or some other insurance, it will usually be very difficult to get proper compensation for the dog bite.
Dog bites can have devastating effects on their victims and be very traumatic for young children. Kids who have been bitten are often terrified about dogs for many years afterwards and can have trouble sleeping, interacting normally with others and be afraid to go outside.
A personal injury lawyer who has experience dealing with dog bite claims and home owners insurance companies, who has experience in presenting the damages the victim has suffered and who has a track record of obtaining favorable results, should be sought when dealing with these types of claims. The author, Ron Kramer, is an attorney and has handled a large number of dog bite cases and is familiar with the trauma that they can cause in his clients’ lives.
Ron Kramer is a personal injury-dog bite lawyer who handles dog bite cases in Brigham City, Ogden, Layton, Bountiful, Salt Lake City, Sandy, Provo-Orem, Spanish Fork, Price, Delta and in the St. George, Utah area. He is the author of The Utah Accident Book. Call the Kramer Law Group today at 801-666-3959 for a free consultation.