Suffered A Dog Bite? Here Are Some Owner Defenses You Might Face

Law Blog

Owning a pet comes along with a great deal of responsibility. Not only are owners responsible for caring for the animal, but they are equally responsible for their interactions with other people. However, in some situations, when a dog bites someone else, an owner will rely on every defense possible to excuse themselves of responsibility.


To many dog owners, their pet is well-behaved, kind, and friendly. So, the idea that their animal would act aggressively towards someone else seems unheard of. For this reason, some owners will rely on the provocation defense. Under this justification, owners will claim that the victim had to engage in some activity that provoked the animal to engage this way, such as by taunting the dog. 

One of the best ways for victims to counteract this claim is to collect statements from other people familiar with the animal. For example, if other neighbors have complained about the dog getting loose or having aggressive tendencies, this information can be used to disprove the owner's claims.


Another defense that owners will sometimes rely on is trespassing. Under this guideline, an owner can claim that the bite victim sustained their injuries because they accessed the dog's space without permission from the owner. One example of this scenario would be someone walking into a gated backyard.

Unfortunately, if the victim did access the dog's area without consent, it can be challenging to counter this defense. However, remember that some victims, such as service workers, who have had consent to access the yard may use the previous consent to dispel this defense.

One-Bite Rule

Depending on where you reside, state law might follow the one-bite rule. In short, the rule essentially states that if the bite is the first for the animal and the dog has not displayed aggressive behavior previously, the bite victim cannot seek compensation from the pet owner. Naturally, some pet owners will jump to this defense.

However, what is often overlooked is that the breed and standard temperament of the dog are additional factors. Take someone with a dog with a naturally aggressive temperament that does not keep the dog leashed or fenced, for example. If the animal bites someone, even the first time, the owner can be found responsible since they did not take the necessary safety measures.

Recovering from a dog bite can involve treating your injuries and fighting an owner to face liability. Reach out to a dog bite attorney for help.


24 February 2023