Bitten by a dog at a dog park? Here’s what you can do
Leash-optional dog parks are a great place to spend some quality time with your dog while he or she gets to know the other dogs in the “neighborhood”. And, even though you don’t have to worry about your dog being around children, runners and joggers, bicyclists, and others, dog parks still present some risks.
A dog that gets frightened or stressed can become defensive or aggressive. This, in turn, could result in injuries, often serious injuries, to another dog or an owner. Any bite to an owner or his or her dog results in a lot of pain, but dog attacks can result in many types of injuries, varying in their level of severity. Common injuries include:
- Puncture wounds
- Head, neck, and face injuries
- Broken bones
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Nerve damage
Severe bites may require stitches, treatment with antibiotics to prevent infections, and even plastic surgery. Being bitten by a dog at the dog park not only results in physical trauma, but can also cause emotional trauma for the dog or the person who experienced the attack.
If you or your dog has been injured due to a dog bite at a dog park, you have legal rights. Cases such as these are predicted on the idea of negligence on the part of the owner of the dog that caused the attack. Most states impose liability on a dog owner for all dog bites, the victim being compensated through the owner’s homeowners or renters insurance.
Your legal rights
While dog parks are places where dogs can be off-leash, you still have legal rights if you were bitten by a dog at the dog park. However, liability for dog bites that occur in a dog park may be somewhat different for those that happen in other situations. In a leash-options dog park it’s more difficult to prove negligence on the part of the dog owner for not keeping his or her dog on a leash.
Even though there are loose dogs in a dog park, most people assume that these dogs have responsible owners that would keep their dogs on a leash if the dog is easily frightened, not adequately socialized, unneutered, unruly, or has been known to provoke fights with with other dogs. In these situations, if the owner fails to keep the dog leashed, or allows it to cause injury to a person or another dog that could have been prevented, the dog owner could be found negligent.
For these types of cases, it’s important to hire a personal injury attorney with experience in handling dog bite cases.
Do you have a case?
Most states have laws that impose strict liability on a dog owner whose dog actually bites someone, even if the incident occurs in a leash-optional dog park. In South Dakota, dogs owners must pay for damages which could include medical and/or hospital bills that result from bite injuries.
If you’ve been attacked by a dog in a dog park and are in need of a dog bite attorney in South Dakota, contact the law office of Rapid City attorneys, Greg Yates and Michael Shubeck to set up a free consultation regarding your case.