Under Utah law there are several laws that relate to a person injured from a dog bit accident. First, the statute of limitations for a dog bite. Typically, under Utah personal injury laws, a person bitten by a dog in a personal injury accident has four years to file a lawsuit from the time of the accident.
Utah also has a specific law as it relates to a dog bite and personal injury. Typically, in most personal injury cases, a person has to prove that another person or entity was negligent in order to recover for damages and prove that they are legally liable for the injuries.
When is a dog owner civilly liable for injuries caused by his or her dog in Utah?
However, under Utah dog bite laws, a person who owns or keeps a dog is liable for an injury regardless if the dog is vicious, mischievous or the owner knew the dog was vicious or mischievous. This essentially means that if a person is bit or killed by an owner’s dog, the owner will be liable for damages regardless the circumstance. This is known as “strict liability” meaning, that if the dog causes the injuries, then the owner is held strictly liable without proof of negligence of the owner.
Some states only allow this type of liability for specific types of dogs such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pincers and Pitbulls or if the dog is known to have a vicious propensity. As a result, Utah dog bite law had a better protection for individuals bit with a dog than other states.
An individual can still sue under a personal injury negligence standard but the Utah Dog bite law can be better protection for individuals bitten by a dog in Utah and easier to prove.
The only exception to the Utah dog bite statute is if the dog was on the owner’s private property and the dog was reasonably secured within a fence or other enclosure. A person also may not be able to recover damages for injuries incurred from his or her dog from a bite of another dog if the other dog entered the person’s private property without consent.
If the injuries occurred by two or more dogs of different owners acting together, the injured person of the dog bite may go after all the dog owners for injuries incurred.
Can a Kill or injury a dog that is attacking me or other animals?
Also, under the applicable dog bite statute, a person has the legal right to injure or kill a dog if the dog is attacking, chasing or worrying a domestic animal that has commercial value, this can include pets and livestock or domestic fowls, such as chickens, ducks, geese. Or if the dog is attaching a service animal. A service animal is an animal that is trained to perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. A dog may also be injured and killed if it is attacking any species of hoofed protected wildlife.
As it applies to humans, just like self-defense, a person can be justified killing or injuring a dog if it attacked him or her or another person. However, if that person was trespassing or did something outrageous to aggravate the dog that justification can weaken and a person could possibly be liable for civil damages for injury to the dog depending on the circumstances.
As noted above, there is nothing in the Utah dog bite statute that says there is justification in hurting or injuring a barking dog. Each Utah City or county should have an ordinance related to the process and procedure in handling a noisy dog civilly. For example, the City of West Valley has a process that requires a call to local law enforcement. The complaining person may also be directed to keep a log of the dog barking which can end up in the owner receiving a citation and after three citations, revocation of the right to have a dog.
Civil liability for violation of criminal dog statutes.
If a person violates a criminal statute related to animals, they could also be liable in a civil lawsuit for violation of that criminal statute. This means a person can be charged with a crime from the state and can also have a private lawsuit filed against them by the victim.
Under Utah law, an owner of a dog also cannot train a dog to fight with other dogs and cannot cause another dog to fight with another dog for amusement or gain. This can apply to a situation where two dogs cross paths during a walk and the dogs start to fight and the owner does nothing to pull the dog away from the fight.
On the other side of the coin, if someone injuries or kills a dog without justification, the owner may sue that individual for damages. A person that kills a dog without justification can also be charged with a crime as high as a Class A misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail under the Utah Cruelty to Animals Statute.
What can I recover related to a dog bite?
Individuals that are bitten by a dog also can typically recover under a homeowner’s insurance policy so it can make the situation less awkward if the dog owner is a close friend or relative as far as seeking compensation for the injuries.
A Utah personal injury attorney can review your case and determine the strength of your case depending on the circumstances. A personal injury attorney can also investigate the case further such as reviewing and identifying the applicable evidence. A person can recover for medical expenses incurred past and future, any lost wages for time of work, damages for the pain and suffering the person experienced, past and future and potentially punitive damages if the actions were done intentionally by the owner.
What is the process for a Utah dog-bite case and what do I need to do?
In a Utah Personal Injury dog-bite case, it would be important to make sure that you have the name and address of the home owner and name and phone numbers and address of any eyewitnesses that saw the incident. It would also be important to obtain copies of all medical documents and medical billing related to the incident. It would also be important to take pictures of the bite and to continue to document the injury and the bite to show the progress of the injury through time.
Our Utah law firm and attorneys can help build a strong case and negotiate a settlement amount on your behalf that properly reflects the injuries you incurred as a result of your personal injury. If a settlement agreement can’t be reached, then from there, we can file a lawsuit on your behalf.
We offer cases on a contingency basis on these types of cases, meaning that there is nothing you must pay to us up-front for attorney fees and will only have to pay attorney fees related to a percentage of any recovery obtained for your case. Reach out to our firm today for a free consultation to go over the specifics of your case.