If my dog bit a boy, what are my rights as a dog owner?

The boys mother has contacted me asking for more then $3000 which she has not stated would be paying his medical bills. As far as I can tell she wantsme to pay for other things which include getting him a computer game for Christmas. The boy she states, also has other trauma from his past which he is seeing a psychologist and psychiatrist for which she wants me to pay for now too. I’m worried that if she decides to sue me that she’ll be trying to get money for these things which don’t exactly pertain to the situation. What are my rights as the dog owner? What should I expect?

Asked on November 6, 2011 under Personal Injury, Utah

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

As the owner of the dog, you would be liable for negligence for the boy being bitten by your dog.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care in this case that a reasonable dog owner would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).

If this is the first incident of your dog biting someone, your liability would be based on negligence.  If this is not the first incident of your dog biting someone, your liability would be based on strict liability.  Strict liability imposes liability whether or not due care was exercised.

Your liability for negligence and/or strict liability would include the medical bills from the dog bite and compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of the boy's injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.

The fact that the kid had some previous trauma which may have been exacerbated by the dog bite possibly necessitating treatment from a psychiatrist or psychologist would render you liable for that treatment.  The reason is that the defendant takes the plaintiff as he/she finds him.  Consequently, if the kid had some previous trauma which was exacerbated by the dog bite, you would be liable for medical bills to treat that exacerbation of the trauma.

The computer game as a Christmas present has nothing to do with this case and you would not be responsible for that.

 


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