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The Basics of Ohio Dog Bite Law

If you've been badly hurt by a dog in Ohio, dog bite laws are something you need to brush up on to determine whether you should file a lawsuit against the dog's owner.

Ohio dog bite laws are complicated in that they encompass state, county, and city laws. If a dog bite has injured you to the point where you needed to seek medical attention, you should contact an Ohio dog bite accident lawyer to discuss the particulars of your incident.

Each year, about 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs according to the Centers for Disease Control. Almost one in five of those dog bite victims require medical attention.

Dog bite injuries fall under tort law, the same area of law which covers other personal injuries, such as those caused by automobile accidents or slip and falls. Most personal injury attorneys take their cases on contingency, which means they receive a percentage of any settlement or award you may receive. They therefore are financially motivated to take the strongest cases and are good judges of how successful your case might be.

What to Do Immediately After a Dog Bite

In the aftermath of a dog bite, it may seem logical to immediately seek medical attention. However, another important action you can take is determining the ownership of the dog that bit you. Not only does this help you down the road, should you want to sue the dog's owner, but it will also guide your medical provider in your treatment.

One of the biggest concerns a medical provider will have in the event of a dog bite is to ascertain if the attacking dog had rabies, a communicable disease transferred via a dog's saliva that can be fatal. If the dog is a stray and is unable to be caught by local animal control officers, your medical provider may assume the worse and require you to undergo a series of rabies vaccinations.

If the stray is caught or if the dog's owner is known, health officials will watch the dog for 10 days under quarantine to see if rabies symptoms emerge. Your healthcare provider will monitor the situation and then make decisions about your treatment.

Besides rabies, dog bites can tear nerves and tendons, and the area bitten can also become infected. Medical bills, time off from work, and property damage can all add up. Should you sue?

Ohio Dog Bite Law

Ohio is a strict liability state. This means, if a dog bites you in Ohio, the dog's owner is responsible for your damages and injuries. The dog does not have to be declared dangerous first, and it is not allowed one "free bite," to prove itself dangerous.

That said, there are many cities in Ohio have laws that treat dogs of certain breeds-especially pit bulls-differently. There are at least 24 cities that restrict or ban pit bulls altogether. They include such largely populated cities as Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Toledo.

There are some exceptions that will free the dog's owner from covering your medical expenses and damages. They include:

  • If you were trespassing or committing a crime on the dog owner's property
  • If you were committing a crime against another person
  • If you were teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog on the owner's property

Ohio's dog bite law also lumps the owner with anyone who also "keeps" or "harbors" the dog. Therefore, if the dog that bit you belongs to your roommate or live-in significant other, you may have difficultly collecting on a lawsuit. Again, an Ohio dog bite attorney will best help you sort out the details, strengths, and weaknesses of your case.

What Expenses Can You Recover From a Dog Bite Lawsuit?

If your Ohio dog bite lawsuit is successful, you may be wondering exactly which expenses you may get the dog's owner to pay. A trial award may cover:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost income, both from treating the immediate injury and from any future lost income, should you become incapacitated
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage
  • Loss of consortium, which means that the injury somehow damaged your relationship with your spouse or family

What Role Does Insurance Play?

Many homeowner policies cover the expenses that arise from dog bites, including any resulting lawsuits. Typical liability policies may offer from $100,000 to $300,000 worth of coverage.

Some insurance companies decline to cover certain breeds that are known to bite, such as pit bulls or Rottweilers. Bites that take place in the owner's car may instead be covered by an automobile policy.