What Happens if a Dog Bites Someone on Your Property?

By Peter DePaolis

Dog bites can cause serious injuries, including disfigurement, infections, and soft tissue injuries. You could be liable for damages under negligence laws if a dog bites someone on your property. If you have questions, it is best to seek legal advice from a Washington, DC personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Can Property Owners Be Liable for Dog Bite Injuries on Their Property?

Dog owners are responsible when their dog bites someone. If you own the dog and the property, you could be liable under negligence laws. However, there are situations in which property owners could be held liable for dog bites on their property when the dog is not their dog. The injured party might have a claim under general negligence laws or premises liability laws.

The exception is if the person provokes or torments the dog. In that case, the dog bite victim might be barred from recovery under the District of Columbia’s pure contributory negligence standard. If a person is even slightly to blame for the cause of their injury, they cannot recover compensation for their injuries and damages.

Another exception would be someone trespassing on your property or attempting to commit a crime. In those cases, the dog owner and the property owner might not be liable. When a dog is defending itself or its property, the victim might not be entitled to compensation.

Dog owners have a duty to control their dogs by keeping them on a leash or confined. Likewise, property owners have a duty of care to maintain safe premises for invitees and guests. Breaching the duty of care generally results in liability for damages. 

Liability for dog bite claims can be confusing and difficult to sort out. The facts and circumstances of the case must be analyzed to determine the dog owner’s and the property owner’s level of care for the specific situation. 

How Long Does Someone Have to File a Dog Bite Injury Claim Against a Property Owner or Dog Owner?

In general, dog bite claims must be filed within three years of the injury date. The deadline applies to premises liability and negligence claims. However, there are exceptions to the rule, so it is always best to consult a lawyer as soon as possible after a dog bite.

What Compensation Can a Dog Bite Victim Receive?

Unfortunately, dog bites can result in permanent injuries and secondary infections. The person responsible for the dog could be liable for economic and non-economic damages caused by a dog bite. Examples of damages for a dog bite injury include:

  • The cost of medical care
  • Loss of income from missing work
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Physical therapy
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • A decrease in quality of life
  • Diminished earning capacity

If you are bitten by a dog in the District of Columbia, seek immediate medical treatment for your injuries. Take pictures of the injuries. It could also be helpful to photograph the dog and the property, if it is safe to do so.

Report the dog bite to the owner and the authorities. File a report with the police department and/or animal control. Contact our office to discuss your case with a DC dog injury lawyer as soon as possible. 

Contact Our DC Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation 

If a dog bites you or a family member, our legal team can help. Contact our law office to talk to an experienced DC personal injury attorney during a free consultation. You deserve fair compensation for our injuries, pain, and financial losses.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.