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Can a victim of a dog bite sue the dog’s owner?

Can a victim of a dog bite sue the dog’s owner?

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2021 | Dog Bites

Dog bites happen to people. The person may have been walking and minding their own business. A child may have been on the other side of a fence surrounding the dog-owner’s property when the dog snaps at and bites the child.

While dog bites are too common, the victims may not know what they can do, beyond seeking medical attention. Where the victim was at the moment they were bitten matters.

What Alabama’s dog bite law says

Dog bite laws in Alabama are fairly clear. While the victim gives the proof to a judge in a lawsuit, dog owners may be held responsible under specific circumstances.

If the dog is a vicious breed or if it has attacked someone at another time, the dog’s owner is responsible for the damages. If the owner knew they were responsible for the dog, they may be held negligent if they did not take steps to prevent the dog from biting.

The victim may not provoke the dog into reacting and biting them. “Provoking” includes hurting the dog, pulling its tail or poking at it. Even if the victim was a child, the dog’s owner may have a good defense if that child provoked the dog into biting.

The victim may not have been on the dog owner’s property, whether that property was public or private. If they were on the dog owner’s property, they did not have to prevent the dog from biting them.

The burden of proof is on the dog-bite victim

Alabama’s dog-bite law places the burden of proof on the victim of a dog bite. The victim is required to show that the dog’s owner did not take care in protecting them from their dog.

What Alabama’s dog bite law means, in plain English

If a dog bites someone without being provoked, while they are at home or in a location where they are allowed to be, the dog’s owner may be held liable for the victim’s injuries.

The dog owner’s liability applies only if the person who was bitten by the dog is on the owner’s property.