Are You Always Liable If Your Dog Bites Someone?

If your dog has bitten somebody else, causing injury, you may worry about the consequences. Of course, this type of event is unpleasant anyway, but you certainly want to know if you are liable to prosecution or for damages. While the relevant laws can be complex, you'll want to understand the situation so you can take the relevant action. What do you need to know?

Analysing the Situation

Much will depend on the circumstances surrounding the event, as in the worst-case scenario, you could be liable for both criminal prosecution and civil damages. Still, you will need to gather all the relevant information to get guidance to help you move forward.

Restricted Breed

If you own a dog classified under Australian law as being potentially "menacing" or "dangerous," you know that you have to take certain precautions. You will need to keep them under control at all times and, when you are not in immediate presence, ensure that they are in a secure enclosure. You also need to warn people outside of your property that you have a dangerous dog within so that they can take the necessary precautions.

If you do not take the precautions and something happens, you can almost certainly expect to be prosecuted and should be worried about your liability. You could be liable if the animal were to cause bodily injury due to an attack or caused damage to their personal property.

Other Situations

If you own a dog that is not classified but causes injury or damage, you still need to take note of the circumstances. Perhaps you were not in full control of the dog or did not take enough care, and the animal was able to injure or damage through your "act of omission. " If so, you will need to explain why you did not exercise sufficient care.

Mitigating Circumstances

Still, you may have some defence if the animal attacked the person while they were on your property without invitation or any need (for example, a postal delivery worker). You may not be liable if the other person intentionally provoked the dog and the animal snapped back before you could take any avoiding action.

Putting Up a Defence

Certainly, these laws can be complex, and you may need to look at the situation very carefully to craft a defence. After all, you will want to do whatever you can to avoid prosecution or liability, but you will also want to retain ownership of the animal without restriction.

To learn more, contact a lawyer who is familiar with the pet laws in your state or territory.