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So when Fido bites, who pays? While the nuances in each state vary, they generally fall within the realm of “strict liability” or the “one bite rule.” The authors of this article explain the standards of dog bite liability.

Each year, approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by a dog in the United States.[1] One in five of those bites will require medical attention. So when Fido bites, who pays? An overview of dog bite liability law revealed that every state provides some basis of recovery for people injured by a dog. While the nuances in each state vary, they generally fall within the realm of “strict liability” or the “one bite rule.”

Strict Liability

States that impose strict liability do not consider the owner’s actions or the dog’s prior behaviors. For example, in California “the owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”[2] In essence the strict liability laws impose a heightened burden on the dog owner. In these states, if Fido bites, you pay — even if he has never exhibited dangerous behavior before.

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