Many states require a dog bite victim to prove negligence in order to recover against the dog’s owner after a dog bite incident. Negligence is a fancy lawyer word that really just means that somebody was not careful enough. For example, if you know that your dog loves to attack small children, and you decide to let your dog run free in a children’s playground, you are being negligent. You are falling extremely far below a reasonable or expected standard of care. An owner who was not negligent would train their dog extremely well, he or she would not allow children to play with the dog, and in the event that the dog was forced to be around children, the dog would be leashed and muzzled. In a state where you must be able to show that the dog owner was negligent, it would be difficult to win the lawsuit if the dog has never before bitten anyone. That is why many states have codified the “One bite rule.” The one bite rule dictates that a dog owner cannot be liable for the resulting injuries if that particular dog has never before bitten anyone. The reason for this law is that even a reasonably careful person may not take very man steps to prevent their dog from biting someone if they have had their dog for a number of years and the dog has never before shown any signs of aggression. In states that follow the one bite rule, dog bites are documented so that a dog owner may be liable the second time the dog bites someone. At that point the dog has shown a propensity to be violent and a reasonably prudent person would take precautionary measures to prevent a second attack. If that second attack occurs, then the dog owner has been negligent.
The State of Utah does not allow such shenanigans. Utah dogs are not given one free pass. Just as people are subject to prosecution the first time they assault someone, dog owners are subject to liability the first time their dog bites and injures someone. Some are fans of this law and others are not. Dog owners argue that it is overly burdensome to expect them to be automatically liable for any and all damages caused by their dogs. Then again, a victim of a dog attack may offer a very compelling viewpoint that dog attacks can be extremely physically and emotionally damaging and they should be prevented at all costs. After all, what is the incentive to own a knowingly dangerous and aggressive animal? Surely their costs to society are not outweighed by their utility.
Most victims of dog attacks feel mistreated and slighted. Offering to help pay for medical bills can go a long way to mending a relationship and making things right. Those that have been bitten by dogs should understand that the dog owner likely did not intend to injure them. The dog owner would almost always go back in time and prevent the attack if they could. At the same time, dog owners should understand that the victim did not ask to be bitten by a dog. No victim would intentionally allow himself or herself to be bitten in an attempt to collect a settlement. That would be absurd. Contacting a dog bite lawyer should be the first thing you do after an accident, he or she can educate you as to your rights and help you resolve the problem as amicably as possible.