An Overview of Dog Bite Law

What are your rights and responsibilities if your dog bites someone else? Dog bite law can vary from state to state, and the relevant sections of law depend quite a bit on your situation. Here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind.

Bites and Other Injuries

Although dog bites are the most common canine-caused injury, many states have laws that apply to any form of injury caused by dogs. These can include cases where the dog scratches or knocks someone over. Some places, however, only have laws that apply to biting.

Strict Liability and “One Bite” Rules

Most states have strict liability statutes, which hold a dog’s owner liable for any damage caused by a dog. Other states have “one bite” rules, which hold the owner liable only if they had reason to believe that their animal was likely to bite (usually, because the dog has bitten someone before). In most cases, the owner of the dog is not liable for the injuries if it can be shown that the victim provoked the dog, but this is not true in all jurisdictions.


If you are held liable for the incident, you will probably have to pay the victim’s medical bills. If it can be shown that you were reckless in your control of the dog, you may also have to pay a fine. Dog bite law can cause big problems for owners, which is why liability insurance is so important for pet owners.



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