Dog Owners: Do You Know Your Legal Responsibilities?
As a dog owner, you should know that you are required by law to maintain your pet in a safe manner. The public is granted the right to be safe from harm. This means that you have a legal duty to prevent any injury that may be caused by your animal. Any injury which is suffered by a dog attack victim that is found to be because of a breach of that duty, (which is a legal definition) can be grounds for someone to sue and collect damages.
Your duty under this law requires that you should properly secure your pet, or make sure that the person you have entrusted the animal with is fit to restrain the dog under normal circumstances. This means that even if you have hired someone to walk your dog, you may be held legally and financially responsible for damages suffered in a dog bite attack. If your dog cannot be restrained and attacks a person or another animal, you may be held as the responsible party under the law, and can be liable for medical care and treatment plus other things such as damaged property.
You may also be found to be in breach of the law if you have failed to comply with local ordinances, for instance one that prohibits dogs being off leash in a public area, such as a park. Or, if you knowingly keep a vicious dog, who has previously exhibited a savage or vicious nature you may be found to have been negligent by a court of law. The laws are intended to protect the general public from any known dangerous dog. If the dog owner has actual knowledge, or if it even can be shown that he or she should have known of the propensity of the dog to be vicious they may be liable for damages. In other words, has the dog shown a pattern of aggression, biting or attacking behavior in the past? If so, what steps did you as an owner take to correct the problem?
Certain breeds of dogs may carry a higher liability than other breeds. You may feel this is fair or not, but the laws are clear. Owners may face increased liability based upon the legal classification of the dog breed. If you choose to own a dog that is automatically considered to be dangerous under the law, you may be facing harsher charges and additional dog bite lawsuit settlement fees as a consequence. As a dog owner be sure you know what is expected of you under the law. Prevent a potentially tragic situation by learning how to properly train and restrain your dog.