Why A Dog Owner May Not Be Able To Use Self-Defense During A Dog Bite Injury Case

Posted on: 23 January 2018

Self-defense is one of the claims a dog owner can use to avoid being held liable for their animal's actions. They may succeed if they can prove that you attacked them or they thought you would attack them, and the dog only bit you to defend them. However, there are also cases where self-defense may not apply even if you attacked the dog owner or they thought you were attacking them:

The State Subscribes to the One-Bite Rule

In some states, a dog owner isn't responsible for dog attacks on trespassers. Therefore, if the dog owner was using the animal to defend their property, and you were on the property without the owner's permission (i.e. you were trespassing), they may be able to use self-defense to avoid liability.

However, there are several exceptions that may still allow you to pursue injury damages against the owner of the property in even if you were a trespasser. It all depends on the laws of your state; for example, some states do not let dog owners off the hook for bites against trespassers because of the one-bite rule.

The Victim Is a Minor

Courts treat children differently from adults when it comes to dog bite cases. This is because children don't have the ability to know a dangerous situation and take the appropriate measures to avoid injury. Therefore, if your child trespasses on another person's property and gets hurt, the owner of the property may be unable to use the self-defense claim. This is even more so if the dog's owner was careless and hadn't taken appropriate measures to avoid such accidents; for example, if their home was carelessly fenced and children could easily get into the compound.

The State Doesn't Have "Stand Your Ground" Laws

Some states have laws that require you to retreat and avoid further trouble (from the attacker) if you are attacked by another person in public. There are also states with stand-your-ground laws that don't require you retreat. Whether or not a dog owner can use the self-defense claim may depend on the applicable laws in your state.

For example, if the jurisdiction in which you were attacked by the dog does subscribes to stand your ground laws, and you attacked the dog owner, then they may be used the self-defense claim to escape liability. On the other hand, they may not be able to use self-defense to avoid compensating you if the state laws require attack victims to retreat, and the owner did not try to retreat at all.

For more information, contact a personal injury lawyer near you.