What is Delaware’s Strict Liability for Dog-Related Injuries?

In Delaware, dog owners are held to a strict liability standard when it comes to injuries caused by their dogs. This means that if a dog bites or injures someone, the owner is liable for damages even if they were not negligent in controlling their dog. Delaware’s Title 16, Section 3053F, clearly states that the owner of a dog is responsible for any injury, death, or loss to person or property caused by their dog, with few exceptions.

What Does Strict Liability Mean for Dog Bite Victims?

Strict liability simplifies the legal process for victims of dog-related injuries. Unlike in negligence cases, where the victim must prove that the owner failed to take reasonable care, in strict liability cases, the victim only needs to show that the injury was caused by the dog. This means that even if the dog owner took all possible precautions to prevent the attack, they could still be held liable.

Are there Exceptions to Strict Liability in Dog Bite Cases?

There are a few exceptions to the strict liability rule. The dog owner may not be held liable if the injured person was trespassing, committing a criminal offense on the owner’s property, attempting to commit a crime against someone, or teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog at the time of the injury.

Who is Considered the “Owner” of a Dog?

Delaware law defines the “owner” of a dog broadly. According to Title 16, Section 3041F, an owner is not just the person whose name appears on the dog’s license but also anyone who owns, keeps, harbors, or is the custodian of a dog. This means that multiple parties could be held liable for a dog-related injury.

What Should You Do If You’re Injured by a Dog in Delaware?

If you’re injured by a dog in Delaware, seek medical attention immediately and document your injuries. You should also report the incident to the local authorities and collect contact information from the dog owner and any witnesses. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve under Delaware’s strict liability laws.

What If the Dog Owner Claims I Provoked the Attack?

In some cases, the dog owner might argue that you provoked the dog, leading to the attack. This is a common defense in dog bite cases, and if successful, it could reduce or even eliminate the owner’s liability. However, proving provocation can be challenging. The owner would need to show that you acted in a way that would reasonably provoke a dog, such as by teasing or hurting it.

Simply petting a dog, walking past it, or being in its presence would not typically constitute provocation. If the dog owner raises this defense, an experienced lawyer can help you counter it. Your attorney might present evidence showing that you did not provoke the dog, such as testimony from you or from an independent witness or by locating video of the dog-related incident.

What If the Dog Owner Doesn’t Have Insurance?

If the dog owner doesn’t have insurance, or if their insurance doesn’t cover your damages, you might wonder how you can recover compensation. In such cases, you may be able to pursue a personal judgment against the owner. This means that if you win your case, the court will issue a judgment ordering the dog owner to pay you a certain amount. However, collecting on a personal judgment can be difficult, especially if the owner doesn’t have sufficient assets. An experienced lawyer might suggest other potential sources of compensation, such as a homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy, or help you devise a strategy for collecting on a judgment.

What If the Dog Was a Breed Known to Be Aggressive?

The breed of the dog involved in the bite incident can sometimes play a role in a dog bite personal injury case. Some breeds are often perceived as more aggressive or dangerous than others, and insurance companies often write exclusions into the dog owners’ policies so they can try to avoid paying innocent victims of dangerous dog attacks. This is one more reason why you should contact an attorney with experience handling these specialized types of cases. An experienced attorney will be best equipped to tackle obstacles that the dog owners’ insurance company will attempt to create to defeat your claim or case.

Can I Sue If The Dog Didn’t Bite Me, But Caused Injury in Another Way?

Yes, you can still sue for damages if a dog caused you injury without biting you, such as knocking into you or pushing you over and causing you to fall. Delaware’s strict liability dog injury law doesn’t just cover bites – it covers all injuries caused by a dog. We have even won a motorcycle accident case that was caused by a dog running out into the road in front of our client’s bike. Again, the law in Delaware isn’t specific to only bites. If you were injured in any manner as a result of a dog’s actions, then you may be entitled to significant compensation. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process, helping you gather evidence, build your case, and fight for the compensation you deserve.

If you have been injured in a dog-related incident, don’t hesitate to call Schwartz & Schwartz, Attorneys At Law, at 855-847-8437 for a free consultation!