Dogs, as they say, are man’s best friend. However, sometimes they are ill-tempered or poorly trained and can pose a serious danger to humans. Every year, more than 4.5 million Americans are attacked by dogs, and about 800,000 of those attacks result in the need for medical care. Victims may face medical bills, time off work, and emotional distress, but the dog owners may be liable for those costs. What is the dog bite law in Ohio?
Here are the big takeaways:
Ohio has strict statutory liability for dog bites. In other words, Ohio law explicitly makes dog owners liable for every bite, including the first one.
Who is Liable for a Dog’s Behavior?
Three different parties may be responsible for the behavior of the dog. The first, obviously, is the owner.
However, a harborer or keeper of the dog may also be liable. A harborer is a person who controls the dog’s home. The most common example is that of a dog owned by a person who lives with her parents; the parents are harborers of the dog. In general, landlords are not considered harborers and are not responsible for the behavior of tenants’ dogs. However, landlords may be held responsible if the bite or attack happens in a common area.
A keeper is a person with temporary control over the dog. That may be a hired dog-walker or just a friend holding the dog’s leash. If the dog breaks free of the control of the keeper and hurts someone, the keeper may be legally responsible for the injuries that occur.
If you’re bitten by a dog in Ohio, you’re generally entitled to compensation from the owner. Ohio Rev. Code § 955.28(B). That compensation should cover any medical expenses you incur as a result of the dog bite as well as any property damage. If the bite was so severe that you were forced to miss work, you may be entitled to compensation for your lost wages. You may also be entitled to compensation for “non-economic” losses, such as scarring, pain and suffering, and psychological damage.
If you were trespassing or otherwise committing a crime on the property of the dog owner, you are not entitled to compensation. You’re also not entitled to compensation if you were tormenting or abusing the dog on the owner’s property.
If you’re injured by a dog in Ohio, you may be able to claim compensation directly from the dog owner’s insurance. Homeowner’s insurance is typically the type that covers dog bites. In fact, dog bites account for more than 1/3 of homeowner’s insurance claims in the US. Remember that you should consult an Attorney at The Boerst Law Office before speaking with any insurance company. The insurance industry business is, unfortunately, minimizing payouts and showing a profit to their shareholders.
As with most other crimes, the law limits the amount of time you have to bring a claim for compensation for injuries sustained due to a dog bite or attack. After that statutorily prescribed time, you lose your right to file a lawsuit and/or claim compensation.
If you’ve been bitten by a dog, speak to one of our experienced personal injury attorneys at The Boerst Law Office. In a free consultation, we’ll go over the circumstances surrounding your injury and help you decide how best to pursue your claim. We handle dog bites and other personal injury cases on a contingent-fee basis. That means we only get paid if you do and you never have to pay anything out of pocket.
“If you’ve been badly bitten by a dog, we are here to help. We truly adore our jobs and work tirelessly to protect your interests against big insurance companies. Dog bites can lead to serious life-long injuries and often leave behind disfiguring scars (physical and emotional). For children, the trauma of an animal attack can lead to life-long phobias. If you or a loved one has been hurt by another person’s dog, do not hesitate to reach out for legal help. We have the experience, knowledge, experts and desire to assist you and your family.” – Bruce W. Boerst Jr., The Boerst Law Office