The one bite rule states that as soon as your dog bites someone, you are liable for any further injuries. The concept behind the rule is that accidents do happen with dogs, where for whatever reason, they attack a person. However, if your dog has bitten someone at least once, they are then considered dangerous. Here is more information about the one-bite rule and what factors are used for determining liabilities in regards to dog injuries.

How the One-Bite Rule Works

Based on the name of this law, it would seem as if the rule meant at the very first bite, you are liable for the injuries. However, it is essentially giving you the first bite free. After that, you are meant to be more aware of your dog and make sure you keep them from other people if you think it might be at risk of biting them. Once they bite someone, you can be held responsible for injuries, because you were responsible for preventing it. There are some exceptions, such as if the dog did not bite but caused another injury, such as a large dog knocking someone over. Not all states have the one-bite rule, so you will need to find out if you are a state that has this rule.

Other Factors Determining Liability

If your case goes to court because you deny responsibility for your dog attacking someone else, even if you live in a one-bite rule state, the court uses other factors to determine liability. These include:

Previous attacks – The first thing the court wants to know is whether or not your dog has injured someone before, whether from a bite or otherwise. Even if you don't live somewhere with the one-bite rule, you can expect them to look at previous injuries.

Threatening behavior – They also look at how your dog behaves around other people, especially around strangers. If it constantly acts defensive, such as barking at other people who walk by and don't bother them, or growling and snapping at them, it is considered a dangerous dog. This could make you liable because they might determine your dog is prone to attacking if given the opportunity.

Jumping on others – This could go either way, depending on the other factors. If you claim that the bite was an accident due to the dog being overexcited, the fact that it jumps on people could work in your favor. This is because it could prove your dog is simply very playful and has a habit of jumping on people. However, if you have a large dog that is constantly jumping up on people without permission, they might be considered a more dangerous dog that is prone to biting.

Previous complaints – If you have a record of complaints from neighbors or people at your local dog park, you might be liable for a dog bite. Complaints show the courts that you have had issues with your dog in the past, and should be more careful of where your dog is.

If your dog has bitten someone, the first thing you should do is contact a personal injury attorney like Caldwell Kennedy & Porter. They will work with you on the case and use these same factors to help you plead your case.