There are a number of potential hazards on a property that owners must manage in order to prevent injuries. In some cases, this can include pets.
Dogs are often loving additions to a household, but they are still animals, and their bites can cause serious injury. When this happens, the dog’s owner will typically be held liable for any injuries that occur.
The laws governing dog bite liability differ from state to state. Dog bites in Delaware are covered by Delaware Code section 1711, which holds the owner responsible for any injury to a person or property caused by their dog. Delaware allows victims to pursue a claim not just for injuries caused by a bite, but by any other behavior, such as jumping on someone and knocking them over, that might result in an injury.
As with other personal injury claims in Delaware, the victim has two years from when the injury occurred to file a lawsuit.
The state of Delaware has a strict liability policy for dog bites, meaning that the dog’s owner is responsible, even if they were not behaving negligently or were not aware that their dog was dangerous.
Even if the owner has taken every step possible to warn the public – including putting up signs and fences or restraining the dog – they are still responsible for injuries caused by the dog.
There are situations in which negligence specifically could be a factor. Delaware law prohibits dog owners from allowing their dogs to run free, unless they are supervised and under reasonable control. The dog is permitted to roam free on the owner’s property, but it cannot leave the property on its own.
If the owner does allow the dog out on its own, they are guilty of negligence per se, or negligence as a matter of law. If the owner knows the dog is dangerous, or has displayed aggressive behavior in the past, then they can also be found negligent if they fail to take proper steps to restrain the dog, including making sure that fencing and other restraints are in good condition.
Under separate statutes, property owners can also be held liable for dog-related injuries that take place on their property, even if the dog was not theirs, if their negligent behavior contributed to the injury.
For example, if a person allows a stray dog to wander onto their property, and the dog bites someone, that person can be held liable for the resulting injury. The property owner failed to exercise a reasonable amount of care to prevent an injury on their property, regardless of the fact that they did not own the dog.
Under section 1711, there are some circumstances in which the dog’s owner is not responsible for the injuries, including:
Dogs are considered man’s best friend; often their relationships with people are very loving. But they can become aggressive quickly if they perceive some kind of threat. Injuries from a dog bite can be very serious, and result in severe bleeding, loss of a limb, permanent scarring, or even death.
Victims may require cosmetic or reconstructive surgery, and there can be lasting psychological effects after a dog attack.
If you or a loved one has suffered from an injury caused by a dog, call the Delaware dog bite lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Our knowledgeable, experienced lawyers will thoroughly review the facts of your case to determine who is responsible for your injuries and hold the responsible party or parties accountable. We are committed to getting you the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your recovery.
We help victims of dog attacks in Elsmere, Seaford, and throughout Delaware. Call our Wilmington office at (302) 427-9500, our Bear office at (302) 600-1107, our Milford office at (302) 422-6705 or contact us online today for a free consultation.