Analyzing the “one bite free” rule

Dogs are relied upon by many in Hamilton to provide comfort and companionship. Unfortunately, as many of those that we here at Mesibov Butler have worked with have learned, these are still animals whose aggressive nature can pose a risk to others. You may have noticed that after a dog attacks a person, the owner will often express shock and portray the animal as a gentle creature who would not hurt even a fly. He or she may believe such assertions to be true given the interactions he or she has had with the dog. Yet even in cases where a dog has not demonstrated menacing behavior in the past, can his or her owner be held liable if he or she attacks you?

Many dog owners may try to cite the “one bite free” rule after incidents in which their animals attack others. This rule (as shared by the Legal Information Institute) states that the owner of a dog (or any domesticated animal, for that matter) can only be held liable when the animal bites you if he or she was already aware of its vicious tendencies. If he or she proves that the animal had done nothing before to indicate a propensity for such behavior, this doctrine would bar you from initiating action against him or her.

However, what many do not understand is that the “one bite free” rule is a common law principle. States that have established statutes contradicting it follow their own rules. In the case of dog bites, Ohio assigns a strict liability standard, meaning that the owner is liable even if your incident marked the first time his or her dog attacked a person.

You can learn more about assigning liability following an accident by continuing to explore our site. 

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