Proving Fault in Personal Injury: Dog Bites and Other Injuries

Jul 01, 2014

In a dog bite or other personal injury case, one of the most important questions to answer is, “Who is at fault?” Once it is determined who is at fault, the at-fault party is required to compensate the injured party, either via a court order or negotiated settlement. Fault can also be interpreted as legal responsibility for an accident. Determining fault can be a complicated process because it often rests on determining whether someone was careless, or “negligent”.

Most accidents occur because someone acted negligently. If an accident occurs and one person was less careful than the other, the less careful person must pay for at least a portion of the damages suffered by the more careful person. Carelessness, or negligence, is defined as conduct that falls below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person and causes harm to another person. You can prove negligence by proving the following:

  • You have incurred actual damages, such as medical bills and lost income.
  • The defendant owed you, the plaintiff, a legal duty and breached that legal duty. For example, all public property owners have a duty to maintain their property to minimize the risk of injury to visitors on the property but there would be a breach of duty if they didn’t fix dangerous conditions or warn visitors of potential dangers.
  • The defendant caused you harm or injuries.

If you, the injured person, were also negligent, your compensation may be reduced by the extent of your carelessness. In a dog bite case, you have to work together with your Ohio dog bite lawyer to prove that the dog owner should be held accountable for the injuries you sustained because of the dog’s actions.

What to Do If You Get a Dog Bite

Seek medical attention immediately for your dog bite injury and then report the dog bite to the health commissioner if the hospital hasn’t already done so. The health commissioner will have the dog quarantined until it is determined that it doesn’t have rabies. You may also want to file a police report if the dog attack was particularly vicious. Speak to the dog owner about the dog bite incident and your medical expenses. The dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance may compensate you for economic and non-economic damages. If the dog owner doesn’t have homeowner’s insurance or you’re unable to negotiate a satisfactory settlement, you could choose to bring a lawsuit against the dog owner.

In Ohio, you can pursue a dog bite case under common law or statutory law. According to common law, you can recover money for punitive damages, which are awarded to “punish” the dog owner and ensure that no one else is bitten in the future. If you think you can prove that the dog owner acted with malice, you may want to pursue the dog bite case under common law. If the dog that bit you has no history of dog bites or of being vicious, however, it will be difficult to prove a common law case.

Under Ohio’s statute, dog owners are almost always responsible for any provable injuries that their dogs cause. The only exception to this is if the injured person was teasing or tormenting the dog, or was committing a criminal offense on the dog owner’s property. If you pursue a dog bite case in Ohio under statutory law, you cannot receive punitive damages.

Whether you pursue your case under statutory law or common law, you are entitled to full compensation for your injuries. In a dog bite case, you can be compensated for economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages include lost wages, medical bills, and related out-of-pocket expenses. Non-economic damages include pain, scarring, mental issues, permanent injury, and physical impairment.

Consult a Dog Bite Injury Attorney in Columbus, Ohio

If you are the victim of a dog bite or other personal injury, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a Columbus personal injury attorney. An attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf and hold the dog owner or other responsible party accountable, so you can receive compensation for your injuries. Contact Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman now to schedule a free consultation with our team.

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