Roughly 4.5 million dog bites occur every year in the United States. More than 1,000 people are treated for them in emergency rooms daily. Some require surgery and hospitalization. Some victims need counseling and therapy to address emotional trauma. For some, the wounds are fatal.
If you or your child has been bitten by someone else’s animal, you are probably incurring medical expenses, losing time from work or school, and suffering emotional trauma from the experience. If so, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
At Syren Law Offices, I help personal injury clients in Anchorage, Alaska, and the surrounding communities, like Palmer, Wasilla, Kenai Peninsula, Kotzebue, Bethel, Utqiaġvik, and Fairbanks, pursue claims against owners of dangerous dogs who failed to take reasonable care to protect others from their animals. Contact me today to start the process.
Premises liability is the responsibility that property owners have to maintain a safe environment for people who are invited to enter their property, or to children attracted by something on the property (such as a dog). Alaska does not have specific dog bite laws, but dog bite cases can be prosecuted using the state’s premises liability laws.
The property owner or the person occupying a property has a duty of care to keep a dog from biting someone. If they breached this standard of care by something they did or did not do, and someone was injured as a result, the dog owner was negligent and can be held responsible for the damage.
Alaska law observes the “one bite rule” in establishing liability for dog bites. The name comes from the old concept that an animal may be involved in a biting incident without consequence, but after one incident, the owner must take precautions to prevent the animal from biting anyone else. The fact is that if a dog owner knew or should have known the dog might bite someone, either because it is an aggressive breed or because it is prone to biting, the owner could be held liable, even on the first bite. Furthermore, other than the dog owner, the property owner or management company may be held liable under Alaska law if they were aware that the dog may be dangerous and did nothing to prevent it from attacking someone.
Some other states assert strict liability laws. In this case, an owner can be held liable if their dog bites someone, even if they could have done nothing to prevent it, as long as the victim was not trespassing and did nothing to provoke the dog.
An owner may not be held liable if their dog bites someone trespassing on their property because the owner owes no duty of care to someone entering the property without permission.
Dangerous propensity is the tendency of a dog to bite someone without provocation. Dog owners are required to take note of their dog’s tendency to bite, growl, or be aggressive. There are breeds that have more aggressive tendencies, such as pit bulls, rottweilers, Dobermans, German shepherds, and chows. Dangerous propensity may also be applied to those breeds trained to be aggressive, such as a border collie trained to herd sheep.
Liability for bites by these breeds is often easier to prove, whether it’s the dog’s first bite or not.
The state of Alaska does not have leash laws, but Anchorage enforces a municipal ordinance requiring dog owners to maintain control of the animal at all times. This means the owner must monitor, direct, and restrict the dog’s movement and activities at all times by using a leash, chain, or other humane methods. In some situations, the dog may be unrestrained, but the owner has a responsibility to assert control by voice command.
Pursuing a personal injury claim after an attack is not easy, especially if the dog has no history of aggression. Where you were at the time of the attack and what you were doing are critical factors in proving your case. You need a personal injury attorney experienced with Alaska premises liability laws to investigate the circumstances that led to the attack and prove liability.
There’s also the challenge of whether or not any potentially liable party, such as the dog owner, property owner, or manager, carries premises liability insurance. You benefit from having an attorney experienced in finding any available coverage.
At Syren Law Offices, I help clients attacked by dogs seek compensation for their damages. If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog in or around Anchorage, Alaska, contact my firm to start the personal injury claim process. Don’t face your legal challenges alone. Call me at Syren Law Offices today to schedule a free consultation.