Dog Bite of a Child

Question: I was visiting at a neighbor’s home with my child when their dog became wild and bit and scratched my child. The dog has never been a problem before and I was told that a dog gets one free bit before I can collect from them for my child’s injuries. Is this true?

Answer:

No. Ohio law (Ohio Revised Code Section 955.28) provides that the owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog. The old common law doctrine that “every dog is entitled to one bite” is no longer used in Ohio.

The statute imposes an absolute liability irrespective of scienter, fault, or negligence and the plaintiff does not have to prove any vicious character of the dog or negligence of the owner. Liability is absolute.

The except to the above law is that the owner/keeper/harborer of the dog is not liable to the injured person if that injured person was trespassing or committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense, or if the injured person was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog on the property of the owner/keeper/harborer.

In your question, it sounds like your child was not teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog and, therefore, your neighbor will be liable in damages for the injuries to your child.

It is always best to discuss your concerns with an attorney. Contact our office for further information, a free consultation, or representation, and we will be glad to give you our personal attention, or your may visit our website atsternbergandzeid.com or e-mail us at sternbergzeid@ameritech.net .

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