Columbus Dog Bite Lawyer Helping Ohio Victims
Dog attacks can result in severe injuries, especially for children and the elderly. It can be quite challenging to get the compensation you are entitled to, even though Ohio makes dog bite cases easier for victims to pursue than in other states. If you have been injured in a dog attack, a Columbus dog bite attorney from Malek & Malek Law Firm can help you get the compensation you need.
Ohio Inflicts Strict Penalties on Pet Owners After an Attack
In most personal injury cases, you must prove the other party was negligent by demonstrating they failed to prevent injury to another person. Thankfully, Ohio law makes dog owners strictly liable for any injuries their dog may cause. In other words, you do not need to prove the dog’s owner was somehow careless in managing or controlling the dog. In other states, you may need to prove negligence, or the dog was considered “dangerous” or “vicious.”
How a Columbus Dog Bite Lawyer Determines Liability in Animal Attacks
Ohio law also allows victims to hold “keepers” or “harborers” liable for any injuries caused by dogs, such as dog walkers or kennel owners. The law could also apply to the following:
- Landlords who are aware renters are keeping an aggressive dog on the property
- A person who is dog-sitting while the owners are on vacation
- The parents of an adult child who are caring for or keeping the dog on their property
Determining who should be held responsible for your injuries can sometimes be complicated, especially if a corporate entity is involved. An experienced Columbus animal injury attorney can help identify the responsible party.
What are the Exceptions to the Ohio Strict Liability Standard?
There are situations where the dog’s owner or keeper may avoid liability. Under Ohio law, the following exceptions may apply:
- The victim was trespassing.
- The victim was committing or attempting to commit a crime other than a minor misdemeanor such as assault.
- The victim was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog on the owner’s or keeper’s property.
The trespass exception does not apply to people engaged in deliveries or door-to-door sales and other solicitations (such as political campaigns or charitable causes) even if the victim did not have the proper permits. Dog owners will often try to argue one of these exceptions applies to your case, but a Columbus dog bite lawyer will know how to overcome those arguments.
What if the Victim of a Dog Bite or Animal Attack was a Child?
While families’ legal rights are clear, recovering just compensation for child dog bite cases can still prove challenging. With this in mind, our Columbus dog bite attorneys outline three important facts for you to know:
1. Your Family Will Need Proof of the Cause and Extent of Your Child’s Injuries
Like other dog bite victims, you still need to prove that your child was bitten by someone else’s dog. You also need to prove the extent (and costs) of your child’s injuries. To protect your family’s legal rights, there are some important steps you should take as soon as possible after your child is bitten by a dog. These steps include:
- Take your child to the doctor. After a dog attack, getting medical treatment for your child should be your first priority.
- Write down everything you remember. Where did the attack happen? What was your child doing at the time of the attack? What breed, color, and size was the dog? Were there any witnesses?
- Talk to a dog bite lawsuit advocate. The best way to protect your family’s legal rights is to talk to a lawyer promptly. We provide free consultations, and you can get in touch with us 24/7.
2. “Keepers” and “Harborers” Can Also Be Legally Responsible for Dog Bites
Dog owners aren’t the only ones that can be held liable under Ohio law. In appropriate cases, “keepers” and “harborers” can be held liable as well. For example, if your child was bitten at a kennel, then the kennel could be liable for your child’s medical bills and your family’s other losses.
3. The Costs of Childhood Injuries Can Be Substantial
The costs of a serious dog bite can far exceed the costs of emergency medical care. If you focus on your child’s medical expenses only, you will collect just a fraction of the compensation you and your family deserve. In dog bite cases, Ohio law allows for the recovery of all economic and non-economic losses—including loss of future earnings, pain and suffering, and emotional trauma.
The Statute of Limitations in Ohio Animal Attack Cases
As with any personal injury claim in Ohio, there is a two-year statute of limitations that applies to dog bite cases. According to this statute, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the incident, or you will lose any rights to the compensation you may have.
It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you have been injured in a dog attack. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to prove your case.
Compensation Your Columbus Dog Bite Lawyer Will Pursue
There are two types of damages or money you may be awarded in a dog bite case—compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are divided into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages include money and expenses you have suffered, such as medical bills and lost wages due to the dog bite injury. Noneconomic damages are damages that have no concrete, “this is how much this costs, here’s your bill” amount. These include things like pain and suffering, and loss of consortium.
In Ohio, there is no cap on economic damages. So if you incur $30,000 in medical bills, you can be awarded $30,000 in medical bills. Non-economic damages have been capped. In Ohio, you receive, whichever is greater, either $250,000 or three times your economic damages up to $350,000.
However, if the dog bite victim has suffered a permanent or physical deformity or a permanent bodily injury that prevents him or her from caring for himself/herself, in that case, there are NO limitations on economic damages.
Punitive damages are capped twice the value of compensatory damages.
Dangerous Dog and Animal Attack Statistics
Dog bites are more common than many people realize. Other types of animal attacks are common as well. Here are some notable dangerous dog and animal attack statistics:
- Number of Dog Attacks Annually – Each year, approximately 4.5 million people in the United States suffer dog bites. Nearly 1,000 people seek emergency room (ER) treatment for non-fatal dog bite injuries annually, and approximately 27,000 people who suffer dog bites each year undergo reconstructive surgery.
- Most Dangerous Dog Breeds – Certain dog breeds are known to be particularly dangerous. These include pit bull terriers, rottweilers and bulldogs. Several breeds that are primarily raised for fighting are known to be dangerous as well, including cane corso, dogo argentino, fila brasilero, presa canario and tosa inu. Wolf-dog hybrids, or canine hybrids, have recently seen a surge in popularity as pets, and these dogs can be extremely dangerous as well.
- Injury and Health Risks Associated with Dog Bites – Dog bites can cause several types of traumatic injuries, including soft tissue damage, broken bones, and severed nerves. Infection is a significant concern as well—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that nearly one in five dog bite wounds become infected.
- Annual Cost of Dog Attacks – Dog attacks leave victims facing billions of dollars in losses each year. This includes financial losses such as medical bills and lost wages, as well as non-financial losses such as pain and suffering. In 2021, homeowners’ insurance companies paid $882 million in liability claims related to dog attacks according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
- Other Animals in Ohio that Bite – Dogs aren’t the only animals in Ohio that bite. We have coyotes, copperheads, rattlesnakes, brown recluse and black widow spiders, and various other dangerous animals as well. Notably, several resources identify whitetail deer as the state’s most dangerous animal, as deer are responsible for numerous serious and fatal car accidents each year.
FAQs: Our Columbus Dog Bite Lawyers Answer Your Questions
Does Ohio Have a “One Bite” Law?
No, Ohio does not have a “one bite” law. In states that have these laws (which are also referred to as “one free bite” laws), dog owners are not liable the first time their animal attacks someone unless they had reason to know that their dog was dangerous. Ohio, however, is a strict liability state. This means that dog owners can be held liable the first time their animals attack. It also means that proof the owner was negligent in allowing the attack to happen is not required.
Is Insurance Coverage Available to Victims of Dog Attacks?
Yes, in most cases dog attack victims and parents of children who have been bitten will be able to pursue claims under the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance policy. Standard homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies cover liability for dog attacks, and many dog owners purchase additional coverage just in case their animals bite someone.
In cases involving kennels and other “keepers” and “harborers,” the business’s commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy will typically apply. These policies often provide far greater coverage than dog owners’ personal homeowners’ and renters’ policies.
How Do You File an Insurance Claim for a Dog Attack?
To file an insurance claim for a dog attack or bite, you will need the liable party’s insurance information. You will also need proof of the attack as well as proof of the current and future costs of your (or your child’s) injuries. With this in mind, we strongly recommend that you discuss your claim with a Columbus dog bite attorney as soon as possible. Filing a successful insurance claim for a dog attack is not easy, and you will need professional help to make sure you and your family receive the financial compensation you deserve.
What If It Has Been a While Since My (or My Child’s) Dog Attack?
While it is best to file a claim as soon as possible after a dog attack, you should not give up on your claim if it has been a while since you or your child was bitten. As discussed above, the statute of limitations for dog bite claims in Ohio is two years. If sufficient evidence is still available, or if the dog’s owner is willing to acknowledge what happened, a lawyer may still be able to help you file a successful claim.
What if the Dog Belongs to a Family Member, Friend or Neighbor?
If the dog that bit you or your child belongs to a family member, friend or neighbor, this should not dissuade you from seeking compensation for your family’s medical bills, your (or your child’s) pain and suffering, and your family’s other losses. These types of situations are exactly what insurance is for; and, more likely than not, your friend or loved one would want you to file a claim and secure the maximum coverage that is available.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Dog Bite Claim in Ohio?
Although you have the option to pursue your dog bite claim on your own, this is not an approach we recommend. From determining liability to proving your financial and non-financial losses, there are simply too many complex steps that require the advice and representation of an experienced dog bite attorney.
Call an Experienced Columbus Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If someone else’s dog has injured you, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. To schedule a free consultation with our Columbus dog bite attorneys, call us today at 888-444-7440 or contact us online.