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Who’s responsible for injuries caused when a dog bites someone?

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2024 | Personal Injury

People usually believe that dogs are friendly and approachable, and that is typically true. Animals raised as companions in Montana are often friendly toward humans. They may be excited to meet someone new at the park or when a person visits their owner.

However, a small minority of dogs kept as pets might become aggressive toward humans in the wrong situation. Dogs of any size and breed can cause physical injuries, disfiguring wounds and also potentially serious infections. Treatment for injuries caused by an aggressive animal could cost thousands of dollars in more serious cases, especially if they cause disfigurement.

Occasionally, someone with dog bite injuries may require a leave of absence from work. A parent caring for a child who requires hospitalization or surgery might also incur lost wages. Who is responsible for the potentially significant expenses generated by an aggressive dog in Montana?

The owner could be legally responsible

A dog is an animal incapable of truly understanding the repercussions of an incident. They act on instinct, and prior traumatic experiences might make them a danger to certain people. It falls to the animal’s owner to ensure it does not pose a threat to members of the general public.

Dog owners in Montana should train their animals and keep them from running loose in public spaces. If their dog attacks and injures someone, then the state’s strict liability statute could apply. Attacks that occur in public spaces, such as parks, result in strict liability for the dog’s owner. Animal owners can also be responsible for an attack that occurs on private property.

Unless the person attacked by the animal broke the law or trespassed prior to the dog bite incident, the owner could be liable for any injuries their animal caused and any financial losses those injuries generate. Oftentimes, premises liability coverage secured through homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance could help a dog owner cover the costs of a dog bite incident. The injured party might need to file a lawsuit when seeking compensation for their losses.

Understanding that a human is to blame for an animal attack incident rather than the pet itself might help people who need compensation after a dog turns aggressive to understand why taking action is an appropriate response to their situation.