According to statistics compiled by the Insurance Information Institute (III), Ohio ranks seventh in the United States in the number of dog bite liability claims at 764 in 2019. The average settlement reached $31,779 for a total of $24.3 million awarded in the state.
That’s probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to total dog bite incidents in the state. Many go unreported, and statistics are hard to come by. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, estimates that 4.9 million people a year are bitten by dogs nationwide. Divided by 50, that would be 98,000 victims per year per state, but some states just have more dogs than others.
Ohio has a strict liability policy toward dog bites, no “one bite” free of consequences, as in some states. A dog bites a person, and that dog’s owner is liable — no negligence needs to be proven.
If you or a loved one has experienced a dog bite — or dog attack resulting in other injuries — and you’re in the Xenia, Beavercreek, or Bellbrook areas of Ohio, contact our team of personal injury attorneys at Peterson & Peterson, LLC. We will represent you strongly and fight for the just compensation you deserve.
Ohio Revised Code Section 955.28(B) states that an "owner, keeper, or harborer" of a dog is liable for any injury caused by the animal provided the dog is not tormented, teased, or abused into committing the act and/or the victim is not trespassing or committing a criminal offense beyond a misdemeanor when the act occurs.
This is the “strict liability” standard that Ohio law upholds. It does not excuse a dog under what is called the “one bite” standard adopted in other states, whereby a first incident is often forgiven. Strict liability does not require the victim to prove negligence on the part of the dog’s owner, keeper, or harborer.
Additionally, dogs in Ohio must be physically confined, restrained, or properly leashed and controlled by a person, except in cases in which the dog is hunting with its owner or keeper. Ohio Revised Code 955.22 also requires that a dog that has bitten or attacked a human being must be registered with the county as a “dangerous dog.” This registry results in stricter leash and confinement standards. The dogs also must wear a tag designating them as dangerous.
Homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies usually cover dog bite claims up to the liability limit of $100,000 to $300,000, depending on the policy. This is generally covered under premises liability, meaning the owner or renter is obligated to maintain a safe environment by exercising a “duty of care,” but since dog bites are strictly liable in Ohio, the victim does not need to prove negligence on the owner or renter’s behalf.
Even with high overall liability limits, however, some insurers limit claims to $90,000 per incident and $30,000 per person. Other insurers simply bar certain breeds of dogs, such as pit bulls and Rottweilers, from coverage altogether. Once a dog bite incident occurs, policy premiums may rise or the policy canceled altogether.
The first thing to remember is that the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Ohio is two years from the date of the incident.
When bitten, you — and the owner/handler as well — are required to file a bite incident report with the local health administrator within 24 hours.
To file an insurance claim, you must gather pertinent information regarding the dog, the person responsible for the dog during the incident, and the owner’s name and insurance company contact information, which can be challenging if you’re rushing off for medical treatment. If someone is with you, that person can prove invaluable in gathering this information. If you have a cell phone with you and are able, you can take pictures of the dog, the person in possession of the dog, the location, your wounds, and any other pertinent evidence.
Ohio Revised Code 955.28(B) allows you to pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and non-economic losses such as scarring, pain and suffering, or psychological damage.
The responsible party — generally the dog’s owner — has few defenses other than attempting to prove that you, the victim, provoked the dog into the attack, that you trespassed on the owner’s private property, or that you were in the process of committing a crime other than a misdemeanor at the time of the incident.
Don’t deal with the insurance companies on your own. Their only goal is to deflect blame and low ball or zero out your compensation. We’ll deal with them, and failing that, take the matter a step higher. By working with an experienced law firm, you can help your chances of obtaining an outcome that is favorable to you.
At Peterson & Peterson, LLC, we have been representing clients in personal injury incidents for more than five decades. We will listen to your story, investigate the circumstances, weigh your options, and come up with the best strategy moving forward to seek the compensation you deserve. We proudly serve areas across Ohio, including Dayton, Fairborn, Centerville, Beavercreek, Oakwood, Bellbrook, and Kettering.