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As we enter the dog days of summer, your chances of getting bitten by a dog go up. But even if you avoid a dog bite, the owner may be responsible for any damage their dog causes. This includes situations where somebody is injured while escaping a dog attack, a dog running loose that causes a car accident, and property damage incidents.

Dog Bite Risk Rises With Temperature

The “dog days” of summer are from July 3 to August 11. While the actual origin of this expression relates to astrology and the position of Sirius (the Dog Star) in the peak summer months, a new study suggests that your chances of getting bitten by a dog also increase during this period.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School looked at nearly 70,000 dog bites cases and found that bite risk increases on hot and sunny days. On the hottest days, dog bites increase up to 11%, according to the study.

A Dog Owner’s Legal Duty

In an interview, one of the study authors, who noted that most dog bites occur with dogs we know, encouraged owners to keep their dogs “happy, cool, and under control.”

This last point—keeping dogs under control—is more than good advice. It’s a legal requirement in Ohio.

Ohio dog bite law prohibits dogs from running loose. Dogs must at all times be restrained, controlled, and prevented from escaping the owner’s property (or wherever they are keeping it).

Failure to confine or control a dog can result in the owner receiving a ticket. And if the dog harms a person or their property, the owner can be held liable.

Dog Bites and Other Dog-Related Damages

Damage caused by a dog is a strict liability offense under Ohio law. This applies to dog bites and other types of injuries, including property damage.

Section 955.28(C) of the Ohio Revised Code states that:

  • The owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog.

In addition to bites, dog-related damages can include:

  • Injuries sustained while attempting to avoid an aggressive dog (e.g., tripping and falling and suffering a sprain, strain, or fracture)
  • Harm or destruction of property, such as a dog that destroys a neighbor’s fence or digs in their yard and hits piping or underground lines or wires, resulting in flooding or an outage
  • A loose dog runs in front of a car, or chases a cyclist, causing a crash with property damage and/or injuries

Holding a Dog Owner Liable for Injuries and Property Damage

After getting bitten by a dog in Ohio, you have 24 hours to report the attack to the health commissioner of the district where the bite occurred.

Prompt reporting not only helps to determine whether the dog poses a health threat but can also play a key role in holding the dog’s owner liable. In 2022, 15,354 dog bites were reported to Ohio health departments.

In some cases, identifying a loose dog’s owner can be challenging.

The bite victim, as well as the hospital, family doctor, police/sheriff, or parent of the victim, can notify the nearest health department, which will complete a rabies exposure risk assessment and may quarantine the dog for a 10-day period. In Muskingum County, the Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department should be contacted following a dog bite.

Bites, non-bite injuries, and property damage from a dog should also be reported to the police department. An officer dispatched to the scene can interview the victim, the dog owner, and any witnesses and file a report about what happened.

Although most dog bites involve an animal known to the victim, identifying the dog’s owner can sometimes be difficult. Neighbors, law enforcement, and animal control officers may be able to assist with tracking down the owner of an unidentified dog, especially if it is a nuisance animal that has previously been reported to local authorities.

Free Dog Bite Case Reviews

Whether an out-of-control dog left you with injuries or property damage, the dog’s owner is liable for the costs, including intangible costs like pain, suffering, and psychological trauma.

After you’ve received medical attention for a dog bite and filed incident reports, you may want to discuss your legal options with a dog bite attorney at Graham Law. If you don’t know the dog’s owner, an investigation by our attorneys may be able to locate them.

Graham Law provides free dog bite case reviews and handles these cases on a contingency-fee basis.

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