America is home to more than 83 million dogs and, every year, more than 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by a dog. Approximately one in six bites requires medical attention from a physician.
Under Oregon law, the dog's owner is the one who is responsible when their canine injures a person. Many pet owners believe that the law allows them “one bite” before they are liable for the injuries their pet causes. While that may be true in terms of euthanizing the animal (as Animal Control can utilize alternatives to euthanasia such as fines, warnings on doors, and restrictions like muzzling), this is not true in terms of legal liability to the injured party.
What Oregon law actually says is that a dog owner may be subject to strict liability (sometimes called "liability without fault" or liability regardless of intent) if the owner knew (or reasonably should have known) their dog had violent tendencies. If the owner knew that his/her dog had a history of launching itself at people or attempting to attack people walking by, then the owner may be liable even if the attack was the dog's first. Additionally, a dog owner may be strictly liable to a bite victim, even in a first-bite scenario, if the dog was of a breed "that is known to be aggressive or dangerous."
If the owner of the dog who attacked you (or your loved one) did not know that the animal was potentially dangerous, did not have reason to know the dog was dangerous, and the dog's breed was not one with a known history of aggressiveness and violence, you can still bring (and win) an injury lawsuit. If you can prove that the owner did not act reasonably and/or did not use an ordinary degree of care in preventing the attack, then you can and recover compensation The key thing is to prove that the dog's owner in some way failed to act reasonably, appropriately, and, as the law often says, "prudently."
Furthermore, keep in mind that your dog attack case may yield additional "causes of action." For example, if a dog attack resulted in the death of your loved one, you can pursue a wrongful death claim as part of your overall action against the owner.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and that's true whether supervising dogs or small children. Dogs are not predictable when it comes to other people’s children. If you have small children, it is important that you teach them to get the owner's permission before petting a strange dog.
Unfortunately, there are too many dog owners who are not very responsible when it comes to their animals. They allow their dogs to run loose. Indeed, nearly 90% of all dog attacks involve unsupervised animals where the only ones around were the dog and the victim.
When you need to pursue a civil case for a dog bite injury, there may be various areas for which you can recover compensation. You can recover an award for your past medical expenses and also your future medical expenses. This is very important because if, for example, you had a finger (or fingers) mangled by a dog, your condition may require multiple future medical procedures and extensive future rehabilitation.
You can also recover compensation for pain and suffering and emotional harm. Again, these are important areas because dog attacks can often be not only physically disfiguring but also deeply emotionally scarring, especially in cases involving child victims.
Your successful lawsuit may also yield an award for past and future lost income.
If you or a loved one has been attacked by someone’s dog, please contact the Oregon dog attack attorneys at Kaplan Law LLC as soon as possible. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can begin investigating your case and amassing the evidence needed for a successful outcome. Call us at (503) 226-3844 or contact us online today.