Dogs can make wonderful companion animals, but only with proper training. When a dog owner carelessly allows their pet to roam freely or develop bad habits, or fails to abide by Salt Lake City leash laws, it’s only a matter of time before an innocent person is bitten, attacked, or fatally mauled.
If you, your spouse, your child, or one of your parents was injured by another person’s pet dog in Utah, you should speak to an experienced dog attack lawyer as soon as possible. You could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, as well as any income and earnings you lost due to the injury. To talk about your Utah dog bite injury claim in a free legal consultation, call the law offices of Overson & Sheen at (801) 618-3580 today.
Are Pet Owners in Utah Liable for Bite Injuries?
Every state follows different laws with regard to pet owner injury liability. In Utah, the law governing dog bite liability can be found under Utah Code § 18-1-1, which provides the following:
“Every person owning or keeping a dog is liable in damages for injury committed by the dog, and it is not necessary in the action brought therefor to allege or prove that the dog was of a vicious or mischievous disposition or that the owner or keeper of the dog knew that it was vicious or mischievous.”
In other words, Utah pet owners are generally liable for bites, scratches, and other dog-inflicted injuries. Moreover, injury victims do not have to prove that the dog which attacked them was known to be vicious.
This is known as “strict liability” because the injury victim does not need to prove that the dog owner was negligent in order to be compensated, which works in the victim’s favor. In most types of personal injury cases, it is necessary to establish negligence before compensation may be recovered by the plaintiff or claimant.
There is, however, one exception under Utah Code § 18-1-1: police dogs or “K-9s,” for which no bite liability exists as long as the dog was trained for law enforcement work and was used “reasonably and carefully” by its handlers.
Common Injuries from the Most Dangerous Dog Breeds
They may be domesticated, but dogs are still powerful animals with strong canine teeth capable of delivering devastating bite wounds. Studies have shown that dogs’ average bite strength is a crushing 320 pounds of pressure — 200 pounds more than a human’s, and more than half the jaw strength of a Great White Shark. And while Pit Bulls receive most of the media attention, other breeds can be just as aggressive, including several you might not expect. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, other dog breeds responsible for high numbers of attacks on humans include:
- Chow Chows
- German Shepherds
- Jack Russell Terriers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Saint Bernards
Even a tiny toy dog like a Chihuahua, though perhaps not as threatening to adults, can maul or seriously injure a defenseless toddler or baby in a matter of seconds. Accidents can also occur when an over-excited dog jumps on and knocks down a child or elderly person, which can cause a pelvic fracture (broken hip), concussion, or other fall-related injuries. Common examples of dog bite injuries include:
- Bone Fractures (Broken Bones)
- Cuts and Lacerations
- Facial Injuries
- Head and Brain Injuries
- Nerve Damage
- Puncture Wounds
- Scarring and Disfigurement
What Types of Damages Are Available in a Dog Bite Claim or Settlement?
Dog-related injuries may require numerous surgeries to repair, which can get extremely costly, especially if there are any medical complications. However, compensation or “damages” may be recoverable for current and anticipated losses of both the financial and non-financial variety. A dog bite victim in Utah may be able to get compensated for:
- Earnings and income lost due to the injury, including reduction to future earning capacity, which may be substantial if the injury is of a catastrophic or disabling nature.
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering.
- Various medical expenses, such as hospitalization, medication, surgery, medical devices (e.g. crutches, casts, wheelchairs), stitches, and staples.
There is no limit to the value of a dog bite settlement or award for medical bills and other financial losses. Utah does not cap economic damages, or compensation for the expenses resulting from an injury.
Salt Lake City Attorneys Representing Victims of Animal Attacks
A dog bite can leave devastating, costly injuries behind, burdening the victim with pain, stress, emotional trauma, and financial hardship. If you or one of your family members was attacked by another person’s dog in Salt Lake City or elsewhere in Utah, you shouldn’t have to cope with the aftermath on your own. While you heal and rest, let an experienced attorney fight for injury compensation on your behalf.
Salt Lake dog bite lawyer Jay Sheen has over 33 years of experience helping the victims of animal attacks recover compensation for their losses and injuries. To set up a free legal consultation with Jay, call the law offices of Overson & Sheen at (801) 618-3580 right away. Though based in Salt Lake City, Jay proudly serves communities throughout the state of Utah.