One Bite Rule
The One Bite Rule basically states that a dog is allowed ‘one free bite’ for which the owner cannot be held liable the first time the dog bites or inflicts injury to another. This protects the owner as long as all local dog laws, rules and/or regulations were followed. For example, if the dog owner was in violation of the local leash law at the time of the incident, the One Bite Rule would not apply. However, if the dog owner was not negligent in any way, was not in violation of any dog laws and the dog had never bitten anyone prior to that incident, the dog owner will not be held liable under this statute. There are a few exceptions to this rule. If a dog is considered to be a ‘dangerous dog’ or a ‘potentially dangerous dog’, the One Bite Rule will not be applicable. Some states and municipalities have identified particular traits and defined what is considered a ‘Dangerous Dog and a ‘Potentially Dangerous Dog’. Under the One Bite Rule, if the dog bite victim can prove that the owner knew the dog was dangerous or should have known the dog was potentially dangerous, the One Bite Rule would not be a factor in the dog bite case.
Strict Liability Rule
This rule lives up to its title. If a dog bites someone, the owner is liable for any and all injuries sustained as a result of the dog bite. First time biter or not, the owner is liable regardless of whether the owner was negligent or aware of the dog’s violent tendencies. Some states feel that no matter what, the dog owner is responsible for the dog’s actions, period. However, there are also some exceptions to this rule.
There are certain conditions that can release a dog owner from being held liable for the dog’s actions, including but not necessarily limited to:
- Trespassing – If the dog bite victim was trespassing when bitten, the owner is not liable.
- Veterinarians – If bitten while treating a dog, the owner is not liable.
- Provocation – This is no absolute. However, in most cases, if the dog was provoked by the dog bite victim, the owner may not be held liable.