Understanding Rhode Island’s Dog Bite Laws

Christopher L. Russo
Helping Rhode Island personal injury victims for nearly three decades to get the compensation they deserve.

Although over 50 percent of dog bites occur in the home, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dog bites can happen anywhere and sometimes with no warning. If you were bitten by someone else’s dog, it’s important you understand what Rhode Island law says about who is liable, why the location of the incident is important, and how an attorney can help you.Dog bite liability

Who’s Liable for the Dog’s Attack?

When a bite occurs off the owner’s property, Rhode Island dog bite law operates under strict liability. This means the owner or whoever is the “keeper” of the dog is liable for any injury or damages the dog causes. Therefore, even if the bite incident occurs while the dog is in the care of someone other than the owner, either the owner or the person immediately responsible for the dog’s actions (such as a dog-walker) can be held liable for the attack. However, strict liability applies only if:

  • The injured person had permission to be present in the location where the bite occurred
  • The injured person didn’t antagonize the dog who bit him

The One-Bite Rule

Rhode Island law makes a clear distinction between bites occurring on or off the owner’s property. If someone is injured by a dog while on the dog owner’s property, the strict liability dog bite law doesn’t apply. Consequently, the dog bite victim has to seek liability under the “one bite” rule. This rule states that the owner of the dog is liable for the injury if he knew that the dog would act in an aggressive manner because of:  

  • A prior bite incident
  • A recent surgery or injury, making the dog more sensitive
  • An historically aggressive breed
  • A history of aggression without a bite

Have You Been Injured By A Dog?

If you've been bitten or injured by a dog in you need to speak with an experienced dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Cranston office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help accident victims in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.