Injured By A Dog? How An Ohio Dog Bite Attorney Can Help

It’s no surprise that dogs are the most popular pet in the U.S. — they provide companionship, can ease stress, and help owners stay physically active. Nearly 40% of Ohio households own a dog. Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they are still animals — which means they can behave unexpectedly. More than 800,000 people seek medical attention yearly because of dog bites, ranging in severity from mild to permanently disfiguring. The most significant health risk from a dog bite is infection. An infected dog bite can lead to sepsis, which is fatal if left untreated. Even a mild dog bite can be painful enough to leave lasting scars. 

Bites are the most common dog injury but aren’t the only way dogs can injure humans. If a dog knocks you to the ground and causes you to fall, for example, you may be left with severe injuries that were avoidable. Even if a dog owner didn’t anticipate their dog’s behavior or provoke the animal to attack you, they still may be liable for your injuries. After a dog-related injury, you should call an Ohio dog bite attorney to help you determine how to move forward.

Why Dogs Hurt People

Dogs injure people for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, they’re defending their territory if they feel threatened. In other scenarios, dogs may be frustrated, startled, or protecting their food or puppies. It’s a common misconception that dogs always show warning signs before biting or jumping on someone, like barking or growling. In some cases, the bite happens seemingly out of nowhere. In seconds, a dog can latch its teeth into a person’s extremities and sometimes refuse to let go. You should seek medical attention within 24 hours of a dog bite, especially if the bite breaks the skin. Dogs have bacteria in their saliva that can make you sick, and a medical examination will help ensure that you don’t get infected. 

Another common dog-related injury happens when a dog — usually a larger breed — knocks someone down in excitement. If a dog knocks you down and injures you, you won’t have the same medical concerns as a bite, but you may be left with broken bones, head injuries, or herniated discs after falling to the ground. You must seek medical attention as soon as possible, ideally, the same day the injury occurs. 

Liability of Ohio Dog Owners

In Ohio, dog bites must be reported to a local health department, whether it’s by the victim, a veterinarian, or a medical provider. According to the Ohio Department of Health, which tracks potential rabies exposures across the state, more than 14,000 dog bites were reported statewide in 2022.

What is a dog owner’s responsibility after a dog bite injury? Ohio is a “strict liability” state regarding dog injuries, which means a dog owner can be held liable even if they didn’t act negligently or know that their dog had aggressive tendencies. There are two notable exceptions: if the victim was trespassing on someone’s property without their permission or provoked the dog through teasing, tormenting, or abuse, the owner isn’t liable under state law. Adult dog bite victims have six years from the date of the bite to sue, and minor children have six years from their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. 

Ohio has restrictions for dangerous dogs or dogs that have previously bitten or attacked a human. They must be registered with the county auditor, kept on a short leash, and wear a dangerous dog tag. If an owner fails to control their dog three times, they’ll be required to get liability insurance. But even a friendly dog can present a problem. Dog owners are responsible for controlling their animals, even if they aren’t behaving aggressively. A dog that jumps in front of a bicycle and causes an accident or knocks someone over may not be violent, but its actions can still cause serious injuries.  

Filing An Ohio Dog Injury Lawsuit

Homeowner’s insurance sometimes covers the medical expenses resulting from dog injuries on a homeowner’s property. Dog-related injuries accounted for over one-third of homeowners’ liability claims in 2021. These policies typically don’t cover the expenses that arise from a dog hurting you or someone who lives in your household, and many insurance companies refuse to cover dog injuries after the first incident. Additionally, some policies exclude breeds like Rottweilers and pit bulls.

Coverage can be more complicated if a dog bite or knock down happens away from the home. It’s essential to talk to an Ohio dog bite attorney who can help you determine the best way to move forward with your potential case. You may feel uncomfortable about filing a claim, especially if the dog owner is a family member or friend, but it can help you get the compensation you need to heal fully. You might recover damages including:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages from missed work
  • Emotional distress due to injuries
  • Pain and suffering 

Dog injury victims often have a long road to physical and mental recovery, and dog attacks — even if unintentional by the animal — can cause lasting post-traumatic stress disorder. You should focus on regaining your health and leave the negotiating to your attorney. At Murray & Murray, we represent dog injury victims across Ohio. We advocate for you to get the financial relief you need so you can feel like yourself again. Contact us online for a free consultation or call (419) 624-3000.