Understanding dog bite law in Ohio

Dogs are a welcome addition to the lives of countless people across the country. Because the vast majority of dogs are friendly and gentle, it's easy to forget that not all are the same.

Fundamentally, dogs are predators with strong instincts. Any dog can act out without warning. Stressful situations, underlying medical issues or genetic predispositions can all make a dog aggressive. In many situations, it's impossible to root out a precise reason for the vicious behavior.

Strict liability for dog owners: What that means

In Ohio, dog owners are strictly liable for bites and attacks. This means they're legally responsible, regardless of whether they were negligent in any way, and regardless of whether the dog had a history of aggression.

The owner can only get out of this responsibility in limited circumstances, such as when the victim was:

  • Trespassing
  • Tormenting or provoking the dog
  • Attempting to commit a serious crime against someone

Pursuing compensation

Victims of dog bites often have to cope with a lifetime of consequences. The medical expenses alone can take a tremendous toll - not to mention ongoing physical and emotional scars. These situations are all the more difficult when the dog's owner is a neighbor, friend or family member.

In most cases, you won't have to sue the dog owner directly. You can instead pursue compensation through their homeowner's insurance policy. You may be entitled to damages for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Other economic losses
  • Pain and suffering

In extreme cases, when the dog's owner was negligent, you may also be able to get punitive damages.

Why it's important to get legal help

As you can see, dog bite cases are complicated. An attorney can help you work through your options and determine the best course of action for getting your life back on track.

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