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Strict liability for attacks from dogs, vaccinated or not

| Aug 21, 2017 | Premises Liability |

Dog bite incidents are always unfortunate and sometimes tragic. The victim of a bite can be seriously injured in an attack. A dog’s owner is almost always very concerned and sometimes defensive. Occasionally, dogs attack intruders. Other times, they attack unsuspecting and undeserving individuals. In Ohio, the likelihood of an attack from a dog increases if that dog is at risk for rabies.

If an Ohio dog is at risk of rabies, a dog owner may be especially susceptible to future liability for the animal’s attacks due to the unpredictable nature of a rabies attack.  According to American Veterinarian, Ohio does not require rabies vaccinations for dogs. Although dog owners in Ohio are not required by statute to vaccinate for rabies, they may be subject to strict liability for injuries caused by their dogs.

In Ohio, owners of dogs are liable for the injuries caused by their dogs unless certain exceptions apply. Under Ohio statutory law, a dog owner may be strictly liable for injuries that can be proved to have been caused by their dog. But the dog owner is not the only person who may be liable. Persons in possession of a dog or who have control of the dog may also be liable because the statute includes liability for “harborers” and “keepers.” Strict liability, among other things, means that all the elements of a negligence action do not need to be proven by a plaintiff in order to recover for injuries. Defenses to liability for dog bites are available under Ohio law. If a dog bites a person committing a crime or trespassing on the property, or as the result of provocation, the owner may escape liability.