Dog Owners in Rhode Island Should Be Held Liable for Dog Bites

A man and his dog were recently attacked by a pit bull in Providence. The attack sent the man to the hospital with a badly bitten hand and sent the man's dog to an animal hospital with injuries to its back legs and behind. According to police, the offending dog was off its leash when it attacked the man and his dog on the street.

In Rhode Island, dog owners are responsible for the actions of their pets. Under state law, dog owners are generally automatically liable for dog bites that occur outside of his or her home or the yard, such as on the street or another's property. Dog owners in Rhode Island can also be held liable for dog bite injuries that occur on the dog owner's property if the dog owner knows about the dog's likelihood to bite.

State law not only recognizes people as the victims of dog bites, but acknowledges that animals can be dog bite victims too. Dog owners can be held liable for injury to domesticated animals like dogs, cats and even farm animals. The law in Rhode Island does not look kindly upon dog owners that reoffend, and if a dog attacks a second time, its owner or keeper is liable for double damages.

Avoiding Dog Bites

Always be cautious around strange or unfamiliar dogs. You should never approach an unfamiliar dog, especially one that is in a car, behind a fence or tied up. A dog that does not know you may identify you as an intruder or a threat.

When it comes to petting, you should never pet a dog, even your own dog, without letting the dog see you and smell you first. Also never disturb a dog when it is eating, nursing or sleeping. Finally, when it is time to leave the area of the dog, do not turn your back and run. The dog's natural instinct may be to run and catch you.

According to the Humane Society of the United States if a dog approaches you and you feel the dog may attack, follow the steps below:

  • Do not scream or run away
  • Stay motionless with your hands at your sides and avoid eye contact with the dog
  • When the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away from the dog until it is out of sight
  • If the dog attacks, feed the dog your jacket or any other item you can put between you and the dog
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball, place your hands over your ears, and remain motionless and quiet

If you or a loved one have been injured by a dog, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.