Challenging Common Dog Bite Defenses
You might assume that an owner would be responsible for your medical treatments if his or her dog bites you. However, there are cases where the law considers the dog's actions justifiable, and the court might decide that the owner is not negligent. Because your behavior will factor into whether you win the case, it's important to speak with a dog bite lawyer when recounting your version of the events.
Trespassing or Breaking the Law
If you were trespassing or breaking the law, the defense might argue that you were responsible for the dog biting you. Therefore, you will need to prove that you weren't on the property when you were bitten or that you were invited onto the property. Oftentimes, with cases involving neighbors, the dog may enter your property and bite you. However, the owner may claim that you were actually on their property. You may need witnesses or security camera footage to support your version of the events.
Reckless Behavior and Provocation
If the court believes that you were provoking the dog, you may be held responsible for the incident. For example, if you were to poke the dog with a stick and the dog responded with a bite, you may be responsible for the incident. Even something as simple as petting an unknown dog can be seen as a provocation. Make sure to write down everything that occurred and explain the incident to your dog bite lawyer. He or she may help you articulate how the incident occurred and how you are not actually at fault.
If the dog owner tells you that the dog is safe and you're allowed to pet him or her, the owner may be liable if the dog then bites you. This is especially the case if the courts have deemed the dog dangerous after a previous dog bite incident. Whether or not provocation is relevant also depends on the state where the incident occurred because some states do not allow a provocation defense.
Failing to Heed a Warning
If the owner posts a sign that reads "beware of dog" or "warning: dangerous dog," you may have a more difficult time arguing your case if you voluntarily entered the property. However, you could argue that the sign was not clearly visible or was vague. Regardless of how the incident unfolded, be careful what you say until you have spoken with an experienced dog bite lawyer.