We love our pets and would do anything for them. But what should you do if an injury is caused by yours? Below are a few of the most common questions to ask when it comes to dog bites and other injuries.

Do “Beware of Dog” signs legally protect dog owners from lawsuits?

Posting a “Beware of Dog” sign does not automatically get a dog owner off the hook if their dog attacks. The sign can suggest that the dog owner knew of their dog’s behavior and aggression. On the other hand, still entering the property with the sign posted could suggest that the victim was well-aware of the risk, but continued anyways.

Are roommates also responsible for dog bites?

In some cases, even if you do not own a dog, you can still be responsible for its actions. An example of this occurred in 2006 in New York where there were three roommates and three dogs. All the dogs belonged to one of the roommates. The other two roommates would often clean up after the dogs, feed them, and let them out if the owner was not home. One day the dogs got out of the yard and attacked a 4-year-old and his grandfather. The child had to have plastic surgery to repair his partially amputated ears as a result of the attack. The child’s mother sued all three roommates claiming they knew about the dogs’ vicious behaviors. Since the other two roommates cared for the animals part-time, they were found responsible for the attack just like the owner.

Can I sue if my child was bit by a dog?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year with over half being children. If you want to sue over a dog bite, you’ll need to prove that the owner is liable. Dog bite laws vary from state to state. In some states, owners are strictly liable. While in other states, there is a one-bite law. This can protect an owner if it is the dog’s first bite, but they are recorded for the next time their dog bites.

If I’m pet sitting, are the owners still responsible if something happens?

When pet sitting (whether you are the owner or the sitter), there are legal consequences if your pet attacks or bites. Animal bites are typically linked back to the owner. However, if the sitter was in complete control when the attack happened, they may be held responsible as well as the owner.

Are bites and attacks the only injuries I need to worry about?

Pets cause over 85,000 fall injuries each year. The most common fall related injuries are contusions, abrasions, and bone fractures. Most falls occur when walking dogs or chasing/playing with them.

While dogs aren’t the only animals that can attack, they are the most common. Be aware of signs of anxiety in dogs. Not all dogs like to be petted or hugged. Some dogs wear a yellow ribbon on their collar or leash meaning to approach with caution. The dog may typically be nice, but could react differently to strangers. Do not let your child chase a dog. If a dog is walking away, it is most likely irritated and wants left alone. If you are bit by a dog, be sure to get the proper treatment as soon as possible. You should also file a police report and gather rabies information from the owner.

If you have been injured as a result of a dog bite, contact one of our attorneys for more information.

Attorney Timothy Manchin established the Manchin Injury Law Group in 2011 after his law partner of more than 25 years became a West Virginia circuit court judge. His focus is on helping individual clients and entire families victimized by negligent acts.

  • Taylor Downs was easy to talk to (I do not speak the legal language well!) and was very upfront and honest about the entire process of my case. He kept me updated as the case progressed, and answered my relentless questions. The end result was a favorable settlement that I’m not sure could have been any better with anyone else. In short, go see Taylor if you have a case. Don’t be intimidated to go seek his help, he won’t blow your brains out with “legal speak”.


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