Dog Bite Law & Statutes of Limitations By State In USA (2023 Guide)

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Every year, over 4.5 million people get bitten by dogs in the US. Shockingly, over 800,000 need medical care.

When a bite happens, knowing the dog bite law matters. You might get compensation from the dog’s owner depending on where you are and what happened.

This guide on Dog Bite Law In the USA helps you know your legal choices. It helps you get the rightful money for your case if a dog attack hurts you.

Understanding Dog Bite Laws

In different parts of the US, there are laws about dog bites. These Dog Bite Law decide when and how dog owners are responsible. There are two main types: strict liability rules and one-bite rules.

Strict Liability

In strict liability states, dog owners are always responsible for bites in public places or when the person is allowed on private property. Unless the dog is provoked or the person is trespassing, the owner usually has to pay for all bite-related costs, even if the dog hasn’t been bitten before.

One Bite

On the other hand, in one-bite states, dog owners are usually accountable for a bite only if there’s a reason to think the dog might attack. This only sometimes means the dog bites someone before. But there must be signs like aggression or attacks on other animals.

In these states, bite victims might get compensation from dog owners based on other legal rules, like carelessness, even if the dog hasn’t been bitten before. But, specific dog bite law claims need a history of issues with the dog before the incident.

Understanding Dog Bite Incidents

Understanding dog bite incidents means knowing what to do if a dog bites someone. It involves being aware of the laws that apply. These dog bite law might make the owner responsible for the bite. But sometimes, your actions matter too. If you provoke the dog or enter a place without permission, it could change things. The dog’s past behaviour and how the owner manages them also count. By understanding these aspects, you can be prepared if a dog bite happens, knowing how to respond to stay safe and get the right help.

Also Read: Hiring Dog Bite Lawyer: Do I Really Need?

Statutes and Regulations Regarding Dog Bites

The government has established Statutes and regulations regarding dog bites that specify what happens when a dog bites someone. These dog bite law vary depending on the location. They might hold the owner of the dog liable for the bite. However, occasionally, things can change if you do something that causes the dog to react. These regulations examine the dog’s control as well. This lets you know how to stay safe and effectively manage the situation.

Dog Bite Law by State In USA

StateState RuleStatute/Case Law
AlabamaOwner liable for all injuries caused without provocation if victim is lawfully on owner’s propertyAla. Code § 3-6-1
AlaskaNegligence rules apply to determine owner liabilitySinclair v. Okata
ArizonaOwner liable for all injuries caused without provocation if victim is lawfully on public or private propertyAriz. Rev. Statutes sections 11-1020, 11-1025, 11-1026
ArkansasNegligence rules apply to determine owner liability. Owner strictly liable if aware of dog’s dangerous propensitiesStrange v. Stovall
CaliforniaOwner liable for all injuries caused without provocation if victim is lawfully on owner’s propertyCal. Civ. Code § 3342
ColoradoOwner strictly liable for all serious bodily injuries. One-bite rule applies in other circumstances. Exceptions existColo. Rev. Stat. § 13-21-124
ConnecticutOwner strictly liable for injuries except for trespassing, abuse, or tortConn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 22-357
DelawareOwner strictly liable for injuries except for trespassing, abuse, or tortDel. Code Ann. § 1711
FloridaOwner strictly liable for injuries except for trespassing, tort, or presence of “Bad Dog” signFla. Stat. sections 767.01, 767.04
GeorgiaOwner liable for uncontrolled dogs or bites by “dangerous animals”Ga. Code Ann. sections 51-2-7
HawaiiNegligent owners liable with exceptionsHaw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 663-9
IdahoOne-bite rule appliesIdaho Code § 25-2805
IllinoisOwner strictly liable for injuries except for trespassing or provocation510 I.L.C.S. 5/16 § 16
IndianaStrict liability for certain situations, one bite/negligence rules for othersInd. Code 15-20-1-3
IowaOwners liable for biting, attacking, worrying, maiming, or killingIowa Code Ann. § 351.28
KansasNegligent owners liable, one-bite rule appliesMercer v. Fritts, Henkel v. Jordan
KentuckyStrict liabilityKy. Rev. Stat. § 258.235
LouisianaStrict liability if owner could have prevented the bite (unless dog was provoked)La. C.C. Art. § 2321
MaineStrict liability off owner’s property, if victim didn’t provokeMe. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 3961
MarylandStrict liability if caused by dogs running at large, exceptions applyCode of Maryland § 3-1901
MassachusettsStrict liability, exceptions for trespassing or provocationMass. Gen. Laws Ann. 140 § 155
MichiganStrict liability for unprovoked attacks on public or private propertyMich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 287.351
MinnesotaStrict liability for unprovoked bites where victim lawfully presentMinn. Stat. Ann. § 347.22
MississippiOne-bite rule appliesPoy v. Grayson
MissouriStrict liability for unprovoked attacks on public or private propertyMo. Rev. Stat. § 273.036
MontanaStrict liability for damages caused by dog in town or cityMont. Code Ann. § 27-1-715
NebraskaStrict liability unless bite due to dog’s playfulness or victim was trespassingNeb. Rev. Stat. § 54-601
NevadaNegligence rules apply, felony charges possible for vicious dogsNev. Stat. Ann. § 202.500
New HampshireStrict liability for injuries caused by dog, including bitesN.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 466:19
New JerseyStrict liability for injuries on public or private propertyN.J. Stat. Ann. § 4:19-16
New MexicoLiability for negligence or if owner knew of dog’s propensitySmith v. Village of Ruidoso
New YorkOwner liable for injuries caused by “dangerous dog”N.Y. Agriculture & Markets Law, § 123(10)
North CarolinaStrict liability for at-large or dangerous dogs, negligence for other casesN.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 67-12, 67-4.4, 67-4.1
North DakotaDog owner liable under negligence rulesSendelbach v. Grad
OhioStrict liability for injuries except for trespassing, crime, teasing, or abuseOhio Rev. Code. Ann. § 955.28
OklahomaStrict liability for bites on lawful property, not due to provocationOkla. Stat. Ann. § 4-42.1
OregonOwner liable if they knew or should have known of dog’s dangerous propensitiesWestberry v. Blackwell
PennsylvaniaStrict liability for severe injuries, one-bite rule for othersPa. Consol. Stat. § 502 A
Rhode IslandStrict liability unless dog was confinedR.I. Gen. Laws § 4-13-16
South CarolinaStrict liability for bites on public or private propertyS.C. Code Ann. § 47-3-110
South DakotaOwner liable under negligence or knowledge of dangerous propensitiesBlaha v. Stuard
TennesseeStrict liability except for trespassing victimsTenn. Code Ann. § 44-8-413
TexasOwner liable based on knowledge, leash laws, or negligenceV.T.C.A., Health & Safety Code § 822.005
UtahStrict liability except for certain entitiesUtah Code Ann. § 18-1-1
VermontOwner liable if they knew or should have known of dog’s dangerous propensitiesHillier v. Noble
VirginiaOwner liable for negligence or knowledge of dangerous propensitiesButler v. Frieden
WashingtonStrict liability except for certain entitiesWash. Rev. Code § 16-08-040
West VirginiaStrict liability if dog is running at largeW. Va. Code § 19-20-13
WisconsinOne-bite rule for first bite, stricter for secondWis. Stat. § 174.02(1)(a), § 174.02(1)(b)
WyomingOwner liable for negligence or knowledge of dangerous propensitiesBorns ex rel. Gannon v. Voss


Who is Liable in a Dog Bite Case?

It is about finding out who is responsible if a dog bites someone. It’s different based on where you are and what happened. Usually, the owner is responsible for the dog’s actions. But if you do something that makes the dog react, it could change things. Sometimes, other people taking care of the dog might also be responsible. Understanding who’s liable helps determine who should care for things after a dog bite.

Reporting and Documenting Dog Bites

Generally, that means telling the right people and keeping records if a dog bites you or someone else. You should contact animal control or the police if you experience a bite. Getting the dog’s owner’s information is crucial as well. It’s helpful to take pictures of the bite and the wounds. If you report and document dog bites, you need to have proof of the bite. Also, note the details of when, how, and what happened. If you need to provide evidence later, this is helpful.

Here are the steps on how to report and document a dog bite:

  1. Seek medical attention immediately: This is important, even if the bite seems minor. Dog bites can cause serious infections, so it is important to get the wound cleaned and treated by a doctor.
  2. Report the bite to the police: The police will investigate the incident and may file a report. This report will be helpful if you decide to take legal action against the dog owner.
  3. Report the bite to animal control: Animal control will investigate the dog’s history and may take action, such as requiring the dog to be quarantined or put down.
  4. Document the bite: This includes taking pictures of the wound, writing down a description of the incident, and getting the names and contact information of any witnesses. This documentation will be helpful if you need to take legal action.

Also Read: Your Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer


Dog attacks are tough and can change lives. We know they bring physical, emotional, and money problems to victims and their families. If you or someone you know faced a dog attack and want to know about What is Dog Bite Law In the USA?, our team of lawyers is here. We’ll guide you through the legal steps, making owners who didn’t care responsible. We’ll fight for the money you should get.

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