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Cincinnati Dog Bite Cases: Liability and Damages

Jan 25, 2012
3 min read

Dogs make wonderful pets and for many provide stress relief and enjoyment. Unfortunately, dogs can also cause significant injury to people, property and other dogs. Let’s take a look at some of the Ohio laws pertaining to dogs that may apply in a Cincinnati dog bite case.

Common Law Liability: Is the dog “vicious”?

Under the common law, a plaintiff suing for damages inflicted by a dog under a theory of general negligence must show: (1) the defendant owned or harbored the dog; (2) the dog was vicious; (3) the defendant knew of the dog’s viciousness; and (4) the defendant was negligent in keeping the dog. [Bowman v. Stott, 2003 -Ohio- 7182 (Ohio App. Dist.9 12/31/2003), relying on Flint, 80 Ohio App.3d at 25-26.]

Many common law cases center around a determination of whether the defendant “owned or harbored” the dog and/or whether or not the dog in question may properly be deemed “vicious”.

Statutory or Strict Liability

O.R.C. 955.28(B): The owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog, unless the injury, death, or loss was caused to the person or property of an individual who, at the time, was committing or attempting to commit criminal trespass or another criminal offense other than a minor misdemeanor on the property of the owner, keeper, or harborer, or was committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense other than a minor misdemeanor against any person, or was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog on the owner’s, keeper’s, or harborer’s property.

Thus, the Ohio Revised Code imposes strict liability upon an owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog that causes injury to person or property unless the injured party was committing certain crimes or was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog.

Persons who have been injured by a dog may sue the owner, keeper or harborer of the dog for damages. They may assert both a common law and statutory cause of action. If the common law is applicable then the injured party may be entitled to punitive damages. Some homeowner’s insurance policies will cover harm caused by dogs.

McKenzie & Snyder represents injured persons in Cincinnati, Dayton, Fairborn, Colerain, North College Hill, Cheviot, Reading, Forest Park, Fairfield, Hamilton, West Chester, Ross, Oxford, Springboro, Middletown, Batavia, Amelia, Mt Healthy, Springdale, Lebanon, Monroe, Loveland and more. We do offer house calls.

Feel free to use the form below or call 513-737-5180 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys.

Written by Andrew Tobergte

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