Dog Bite Cases: How Utah Is Different from Every Other State

By Mark T. Flickinger, JD on October 24, 2016

Graphic showing that 4.7 dog bite injuries occur in the United States each yearMany dog bite cases fall under the category of premises liability law in that they occur on someone else’s property and therefore the owner of that property is liable, especially if a dog that is known to be violent is improperly chained or otherwise barred from doing harm. However, dog bites can occur even on your own property, and if the dog is owned by another person, that person can be held liable for any injuries you sustain.

In most states, dog bite cases can be tricky. The foundation of dog bite law is the “one-bite rule,” which states that a victim can recover damages from a dog owner only if the dog had previously bitten someone or behaved as though it wanted to, and the dog owner had been aware of this incident. While most states have instituted statutes to allow for instances of premises liability and other acts of negligence to trump the one-bite rule, it is still the responsibility of the bite victim to present evidence that the dog owner was negligent in order to recover compensation.

In Utah, however, the doctrine of strict liability comes into play in all but a handful of dog bite cases. According to this doctrine, the victim of a dog bite or other violent attack by a dog must only show that:

  • The bite or attack did take place and did involve the dog in question
  • The bite or attack did cause the injuries forming the basis of the lawsuit

When it comes to handling your dog bite case, the Provo, UT personal injury attorneys of Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton can make sure that the strongest, most compelling case is presented on your behalf. While it may seem as though Utah dog bite laws favor the victim - and compared to other states, they might - this does not mean that your dog bite case is open and shut. In fact, if not handled properly, you may find yourself faced with medical bills and other expenses you have no means of paying.

Utah Code Section 18-1-1

Utah Code Section 18-1-1 is the statute that amends the one-bite-rule in the state of Utah. According to the statute:

Every person owning or keeping a dog shall be liable in damages for injury committed by such dog, and it shall not be necessary in any action brought therefor to allege or prove that such dog was of a vicious or mischievous disposition or that the owner or keeper thereof knew that it was vicious or mischievous…

The statute then goes on to specify the sole exception to the extension of strict liability to dog bite cases:

…but neither the state…nor any peace officer…shall be liable in damages for injury committed by a dog when: (1) The dog has been trained to assist in law enforcement and (2) the injury occurs while the dog is reasonably and carefully being used in the apprehension, arrest, or location of a suspected offender or in maintaining or controlling the public order.

Arrange for an Evaluation of Your Dog Bite Case

To arrange for an evaluation of your dog bite case, please contact our personal injury law firm today.

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