Dog bite laws vary from state to state. Therefore, the location of the dog attack will determine your legal rights. In most instances, dog bite law follows a "strict liability" theory. Under these statutes, the dog owner is responsible for any damage caused by an attack from their dog. For example, st1:State>Michigan's Dog Bite Statute (MCL 287.351) states in relevant part:
"If a dog bites a person, without provocation while the person is on public property, or lawfully on private property, including the property of the owner of the dog, the owner of the dog shall be liable for any damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness."
Some states, including New York, Texas Virginia and Maryland, adhere to common law principles with respect to dog bite law.
In order for the owner of a dog to be liable to a person injured, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to establish that the dog was vicious or had a natural inclination or tendency to be dangerous and that the owner had knowledge thereof.
In determining the character of the dog, you may consider evidence of the general reputation of the dog, as well as evidence of any prior acts and conduct of the dog.
In determining the knowledge of the owner, you may consider evidence of the manner in which the owner maintained the dog, his knowledge of prior acts and conduct of the dog, and any previous warnings issued to others by the owner.
("The owner of such a dog is not liable to the person injured if the injured person has knowledge of the character of the dog and wantonly excites it or voluntarily and unnecessarily puts himself in the way of the dog.")
If this is so, then it may be necessary to establish negligence on the part of the dog owner. As a result of important differences among states, it is critical that you contact our office to determine the best course of action to protect your legal rights. This site provides the text of many state dog bite laws.