According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur in the United States each year. Children are the most likely victims, and men are more likely to be bitten than women. Surveys have estimated that 30% of New Hampshire families own a dog.
Dog bite injuries are treated uniquely under New Hampshire law. Typically, in order to recover for a personal injury, a victim must demonstrate negligence on behalf of a defendant. In the case of an animal or dog bite injury, the defendant would be the dog’s owner. Therefore, if traditional negligence rules applied, a victim would need to show that the dog owner failed to use reasonable care in some way, and that the failure directly caused the dog to bite the victim.
In certain cases, the victim could certainly prove that the dog owner was negligent: for example, if an aggressive pit bull was unleashed in a densely-populated area, the pit bull’s owner was not exercising sufficient care.
In many other situations, however, dog bites simply occur due to “dogs being dogs” — not any kind of negligence on the part of the dog owner. But there is still a remedy.
In New Hampshire, under RSA 466:19, a plaintiff-victim may recover for dog bite injuries regardless of fault. This is a concept known as “strict liability” and means that the victim need not show negligence to recover damages. It boils down to this: if someone’s dog bites you, you likely have a right to damages.
The value of the claim depends on the extent of the damages. Permanent injuries, including scarring, may result in higher damages.
Many people don’t realize that most homeowner’s insurance policies contain coverage for dog bite claims. Therefore, if you suffer a serious dog bite injury, you might be entitled to a settlement from the dog owner’s insurance company — meaning the dog owner themselves wouldn’t personally be on the hook for damages.
If you or your child was the victim of a dog bite, contact us today for a free consultation. We typically represent personal injury clients on a contingency fee basis: no upfront cost and our fee comes from a percentage of your settlement. Click the link above for more information.
Call us today at (603) 883-0707 learn more.
Author: Israel F. Piedra
This blog is intended for informational use only. The information contained herein should not be construed as offering legal advice or a legal opinion or forming an attorney-client relationship.