Dogs are the most common household pet in the U.S. Yet, statistics estimate 50% of all Americans will be bitten by an animal in their lifetime, and approximately 1 million dog bites occur annually. If you are ever bitten by a dog, it is important to take the following steps:
1. Seek medical treatment. Animal bites might lead to infection, nerve damage, blood loss and scarring.
2. Call the police. Having a trusted neutral party, such as a police officer, available to document the event can be valuable, particularly if the case goes to trial.
3. Take pictures of the injury, the dog and the scene where the bite occurred. Identifying the dog, its owner and the circumstances that led to the bite or attack are all vital in proving a dog bite case.
4. Call a personal injury attorney who knows how to handle a dog bite case. Oregon law regarding dog bites is complex.
5. Do not provide a statement to an insurance representative before speaking with a qualified dog bite attorney.
Oregon follows the “one bite rule” with dog bites. Under the common law, this meant that a dog owner was considered not to have knowledge of their pet’s dangerous nature until they bit someone. The owner was then put on notice that the animal was dangerous and they were liable if the dog bit another person.
Under Oregon’s legal framework, the dog owner is strictly liable for injuries caused by a dog only if the owner knows or has reason to know of the dog’s dangerous propensities. Meaning, a dog breed known to be dangerous, or a particular dog with a habit of biting or behaving aggressively. An owner can still be held liable if they’re found to be otherwise negligent in failing to prevent the attack. There are also sometimes local county or city ordinances that further affect a dog bite case.
Like any other type of case, each dog bite case is different. I will be able to help you determine whether the dog owner is liable for damages if you were injured by a dog bite or attack. Most dog bite cases have a two-year statute of limitations, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to preserve your legal rights.