Dog Bites

Holding Dog Owners Accountable For Their Pets’ Actions

We have all seen tragic stories on the news of vicious pit bull attacks where defenseless children or even adults are mauled and killed. These attacks are frightening and have even led to local bans on particular dog breeds—most commonly, pit bulls.

The reality is, however, that most dog bites do not occur under such circumstances. In fact, largely due to a lack of evidence that particular breeds bite people more often than others, Utah passed a law that went into effect on January 1, 2015, that bans municipalities from restricting dog breeds in any way. The intent of the law was to move the focus off of a particular breed and onto dog owners, where it belongs. William Enoch Andrews is dedicated to holding these irresponsible owners responsible while securing financial recoveries for victims of dog bites.

If Pit Bulls Aren’t the Most Dangerous, Which Breeds Are?

Any breed of dog is capable of biting. A dog’s aggressive behavior is usually the result of how it has been treated and handled by people, regardless of whether it is a breed typically used for fighting, attacking, or guarding. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are an average of 4.5 million reports of dog bites each year, and over half of these bites occur in the dog’s own home. This means that people are most often bitten by dogs that are familiar to them—either their own dog or the dog of a friend or family member.

Dogs also often bite when approached in public, whether they are on a leash or not. While there are certainly things you can do to avoid being bitten by a dog, you are most likely not at fault when a dog attack occurs.

Holding Dog Owners Accountable

The Utah dog bite statute states that “every person owning or keeping a dog is liable in damages for injury committed by the dog.” Utah is a strict liability state which means that the owner is responsible even if he or she had no previous indication that the dog might bite someone.

About half of all U.S. states have what is known as a “one bite rule,” meaning that until a dog has bitten once, the owner cannot be held responsible. This is not true in Utah, where an owner can be sued for a dog’s first and only bite. Utah’s law also applies to any injury a dog causes, not just a bite. If a dog knocks a person down, for example, the dog’s owner is liable for injuries the victim sustains.

Utah’s comprehensive law does not mean that the dog will always be 100 percent to blame, however. If the dog’s owner can prove that the victim was partially at fault for the bite—by provoking the dog, for example—a court could find that the parties share the blame under Utah’s modified comparative negligence law. If the victim is found to be 50 percent or more to blame for the bite, he will not be eligible for any compensation from the dog’s owner. If the victim is less than 50 percent to blame, his compensation will be reduced by the amount he is determined to be at fault.

An Experienced Dog Bite Attorney Will Fight for You

A dog bite can cause serious injury to a victim, including broken bones and dangerous infections. Given that many dog bite claims become a case of “he said, she said” in an attempt to prove comparative negligence, you will need an attorney who can gather the evidence, medical reports, and witness testimony to see that you get the compensation you deserve.

In Utah, you have four years from the date of the attack to file suit against the dog owner. If you were bitten or injured by a dog in the last few years and are still suffering the consequences, call William Enoch Andrews. He will review your case and go after the dog’s owner to see that you are taken care of.