Dog Bite Laws

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Each year, nearly five million people are bit by a dog in the U.S. These injuries can be traumatic and cause long-term problems. Medical bills can pile up, and unless you know what to do, you may end up paying for all of them. We at Christensen & Hymas want to help you avoid more problems and worries after you or a loved one is bit by a dog. This page will inform you of the basic laws surrounding dog bites in Utah. While we cannot give you specific legal advice unless you hire us, this page will give you a simple overview of Utah’s laws on dog bites.

Who will be held responsible for the dog’s actions?

Dog Owner's ResponsibilityAccording to Utah law, the dog owner is nearly always responsible for any injuries the dog causes. The only exception applies to those dogs used by police officers. However, police dogs can only avoid liability under two conditions. First, those dogs must be trained. Second, the injury must happen while helping officers arrest a suspect or maintain public order. Utah law also specifies that the injured person does not need to prove that the dog was vicious or that the owner knew this. While some states do not hold owner’s responsible until the dog’s second bite, Utah starts punishing owners from the very first bite. However, just because a dog bite someone does not mean the owner must automatically pay for the injuries. Utah compares the fault of the owner to the fault of the injured person. A person cannot intentionally provoke a dog and then blame the owner for the injury. Usually, little children will not be held responsible since they do not know any better. Sometimes an injury can come from multiple dogs owned by different people. In this case, Utah law holds all of the owners responsible as joint defendants. If found responsible, the court will require each owner to pay a certain portion of the total damages caused by the attack.

What can I receive compensation for?

If the owner is found responsible, then he or she will need to pay for the injuries and any other damages caused by the bite. Typically, a dog owner’s home or rental insurance will cover these costs. The owner may need to pay for:

  • medical expenses,
  • surgery for scars or disfigurement,
  • lost earnings (current and future), and
  • pain and suffering.

When should I seek help?

After a dog bite, you should do several things to ensure that someone will be held responsible for the attack. Visit our Dog Bite page to see what steps you should take immediately after the injured person is taken care of. Further, Utah law only allows an injured person four years to file a claim against the dog’s owner. If the dog injured a child, then this four year time limit does not start until the child reaches the age of 18. However, this statute of limitation can vary based on individual circumstances, so please do not wait to act.

What else should I know about Utah’s laws on Dog bites?

If you are a dog owner, you need to realize your responsibility for your dog. You can also take certain steps to avoid creating aggression in your dog. If a dog attacks another animal, a person can injure or kill that dog without legally getting in trouble. If you want to understand more about dog bites and attacks, feel free to request our free book on this subject. It will help you avoid eight common mistakes injured people make as they deal with the legal claim. It also includes testimonials from our clients on how we helped them with their dog bite cases. If you or a loved one has suffered such an injury, contact the dog bite attorneys at Christensen & Hymas. Call us at (801) 506-0800 (main number), (801) 224-2999 (Utah County) or (801) 294-9500 (Davis County) to set up a FREE consultation.

If you have been bitten by a dog contact the Utah Dog Bite Lawyers today.

Photo courtesy of The U.S. Air Force. The image is in the public domain.

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