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Rhode Island Dog Bite Law: What You Need To Know

Contrary to what the internet may tell you, not all dogs are good boys. When a dog lashes out, either due to the owner’s negligence or the dog’s unmanaged aggression, the results can be devastating. Dog bites can cause infections, permanent injuries, and scarring, not to mention emotional trauma and potential PTSD. A dog bite can change your life for the worse, whether it’s a rottweiler bite, pitbull bite, or even a chihuahua bite. All dogs are capable of aggressive behavior, regardless of the breed. Call the best Providence-based dog bite attorney.

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, know that you have rights. You can achieve compensation from the dog’s owners from skilled Rhode Island dog bite personal injury lawyers, like those at Petrarca Law. That’s why we’ve set out to explain dog bite liability laws and how they pertain to you.

Who’s liable for a dog bite?

In Rhode Island, minor dog bite lawsuits can be governed by strict liability. This means that a dog’s owner is strictly liable for any injuries that their dog causes. However, the location of the bite is important when determining dog bite liability. If the dog bite occurs off the owner’s property, then either the owner or whoever was the “keeper’ of the dog at the time is liable, such as a dog-walker. Strict liability does not apply to bites that occur when the dog is inside its owner’s enclosure, nor does it apply if the bitten person antagonized the dog or was trespassing at the location where the bite occurred.

Strict liability also only applies if the owner was aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies prior to the incident, which is where the so-called “one bite rule” comes into play. Contact us to schedule a consultation with a dog bite attorney

What is the one-bite rule?

The Rhode Island Supreme Court generally adheres to a principle called the “one bite rule”. In essence, this means that if the dog has displayed no prior aggressive tendencies prior to an attack, it can be argued that the owner would have no way of knowing that their dog would bite and therefore is not strictly liable. However, this is not a law, and it doesn’t apply to every case. The “one bite rule” is only a general rule of thumb to assess whether or not the owner knew about their dog’s aggressive tendencies prior to the attack.

Just because a dog has never previously bitten someone doesn’t mean the owner is not aware of their dog’s vicious behavior. If the dog has previously scratched, attacked, or otherwise injured another person, then the owner is strictly liable, regardless of whether the dog has ever bitten someone before.

Other ways a dog owner can be liable in a minor dog bite lawsuit

In Rhode Island, it’s possible for a dog owner to be liable for any kind of injury their dog inflicts, especially if they were aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies beforehand. An owner may be found guilty of negligence if they didn’t take proper action to prevent their dog from misbehaving, such as violating leash laws or failing to keep the dog properly fenced.

An owner may also be held liable if the attack occurred on their property if they knew of the dog’s aggressive tendencies and failed to take the necessary steps to protect their guests. The age of the injured person may also be a factor, as the court may be more likely to award the victim’s family compensation if they were a child at the time of the attack.

My dog bit someone. What should I do?

First of all, take a deep breath. Just because your dog bit someone doesn’t mean it will be automatically taken away from you or euthanized. Medical officials may want to quarantine your pet for a few days to monitor for symptoms of rabies in dogs, but context is everything when it comes to dog bite cases. If the attack occurred on your property, you’re less likely to be held liable, especially if it was the first offense. If you can prove that the victim antagonized or threatened your dog in any way, you may also be able to avoid strict liability in a minor dog bite lawsuit.

However, you will be tasked with ensuring that this will never happen again. All dog owners have a responsibility to ensure that their dogs are well-behaved and not a danger to the public. If you own a dog that’s prone to playing too rough or indulging in aggressive behavior, contact a veterinarian or an animal behavioral specialist to see about getting your dog proper training. You may also look into adding dog bite liability insurance to your home insurance policy in case of future incidents.

Who’s the best Rhode Island dog bite attorney? If you have been the victim of a dog bite in Rhode Island, Petrarca & Petrarca can help.

If you’re a dog bite victim looking for compensation, you can rest easy now. Providence dog bite personal injury lawyers, Peter and Jina Petrarca are here for you. We’ll help you through this traumatic time with empathy and compassion, and we’ll fight tirelessly to get you the compensation you need to heal physically and mentally. No matter what kind of dog bit you or how severe the injury, we can help you collect compensation for your medical bills, time off work, emotional trauma, and even more.

Contact us today to tell us all about the incident, and let’s talk about how we can help you. Give us a call at 401-273-1111