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Table of Dog Bite Strict Liability Statutes

Table of Dog Bite Strict Liability Statutes



Cynthia Hodges, J.D., LL.M., M.A.



Publish Date:
2012
Place of Publication: Michigan State University College of Law

Printable Version


Approximately 36 states and Washington D.C. have enacted statutes that make dog owners strictly liable for any damages their dogs cause if they bite or attack someone. This means that dog owners are liable for injuries their dogs inflict regardless of whether the owner was at fault, negligent, or even had any prior knowledge of the dog’s vicious propensities. However, there are exceptions to strict liability in some states for dogs that are provoked by the victim (i.e. purposefully goaded into attack). Also, dogs that are used by military or law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes or apprehend suspects are often excepted from strict liability under the statutes.

State Citation & Link Dogs Included Type of Damage Included Places Included Provocation Exception Other Exceptions
Alabama

AL ST 3-6-1

AL ST 3-6-3


Any dog
Bite or injury
A place where victim has a legal right to be
Provocation

If owner proves that s/he had no knowledge of any circumstances indicating dog was vicious, dangerous or mischievous, then s/he is only liable for actual expenses


Alaska
Arizona

AZ ST 11-1025

AZ ST 11-1027


Any dog
Bite only
  • Public place, or
  • Private place where person has legal right to be, including dog owner's property
  • Provocation
  • Dog used in military or police work if defending itself from a harassing or provoking act

Dog used in military or police work if dog was assisting in

  • apprehending a suspect,
  • investigation of a crime,
  • execution of a warrant, or
  • defense of a person

Arkansas
California Cal Civ Code 3342

Any dog
Bite only
  • Public place, or
  • Private place where person has legal right to be, including dog owner's property

  • Dog used in military or police work if defending itself from a harassing or provoking act, or
  • Contributory negligence (See Johnson v. McMahan, 68 Cal.App.4th 173, 176 (1998))





  • Person injured was trespassing (not lawfully on owner’s property)
  • Dog used in military or police work if dog was assisting in apprehending a suspect, in the investigation of a crime, in the execution of a warrant, or in the defense of a person
  • Assumption of the risk (See Johnson v. McMahan, 68 Cal.App.4th 173, 176 (1998))


Colorado

CO ST 13-21-124



Any dog Bite, injury, death
  • Public place, or
  • Private place where person has legal right to be, including dog owner's property



Provocation
  • Person injured unlawfully on public or private property;
  • Person injured on property of dog owner if there is a "no trespassing" or "beware of dog" sign;
  • If dog is performing duties for peace officer or military personnel;
  • If person injured is a veterinary health care worker, dog groomer, humane agency staff person, professional dog handler, trainer, or dog show judge performing his or her duties; or
  • If dog is working as a hunting, herding, farm or ranch dog, or predator control dog on the property of or under the control of its owner.

Connecticut

CT ST 22-357



Any dog Any damage to person or property
Presumably any place

Provocation - victim was teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog


Person injured was trespassing or committing other tort
Delaware

9 Del.C. § 913

(formerly DE ST T. 7 Sec. 1711)


Any dog Any injury, death or loss to person or property Presumably any place

Provocation - victim was teasing, tormenting or abusing the dog

Person injured
  • was committing a trespass or criminal offense on owner's property, or
  • was committing a criminal offense against any person

D.C. DC ST 8-1808

DC ST 8-1812



Dogs at large only
Any injury Presumably any place Not provided
Not provided
Florida

FL ST 767.04


Any dog Bite
  • Public place, or
  • Private place where person has legal right to be, including dog owner's property
Not provided


  • Contributory negligence
  • Display of "Bad Dog" sign on owner premises
Georgia GA ST 51-2-7

Vicious or dangerous animals who are at large due to owner's negligence


Any injury

Anywhere but dog owner’s property (dog must be “at large”)


Provocation Not provided
Hawaii

HI ST 663-9 and 663-9.1


Any animal


Any personal or property damage
Any place Provocation - victim teased, tormented, or abused the dog
  • Person injured was trespassing
  • Other justification
Idaho
Illinois IL ST CH 510 Sec. 5/16


Any animal
Any injury or attack
Any place where victim has legal right to be

Provocation
Person injured was not peacefully conducting him or herself

Indiana

IN ST 15-20-1-3

(formerly IN ST 15-5-12-1)


Any dog Bite Person is in a location where required to be to discharge a duty imposed by the:
  • laws of Indiana;
  • laws of the United States; or
  • postal regulations of the United States

Provocation Person injured was not peacefully conducting him or herself


Iowa

IA ST 351.28



Any dog All damages done by the dog if dog caught in the act of worrying, maiming, or killing a domestic animal, or the dog is attacking or attempting to bite a person


Presumably any place Not specifically provided
  • Dog affected with hydrophobia
  • Party damaged is doing an unlawful act, directly contributing to the injury
  • dog not caught in the act of worrying, maiming, or killing a domestic animal, or dog was not attacking or attempting to bite a person
Kansas
Kentucky KY ST 258.235(4)


Any dog Any damage to a person, livestock, or other property Presumably any place
Not provided Not provided
Louisiana LA C.C. Art. 2321


Any animal

Any damages for injuries to persons or property that owner could have prevented and that were not provoked by victim


Presumably any place
Provocation
Owner could not have prevented damage
Maine ME ST. T.7 3961

Any dog Any damage to person or property
Any place but owner’s property

Not provided
Fault of the person injured may reduce damages if his or her fault exceeds owner’s fault



Maryland
Massachusetts MA ST 140 Sec. 155

Any dog Any damage to person or property

Presumably any place Person injured was teasing, tormenting or abusing dog.

Person injured was committing a trespass or other tort,

Michigan MI ST 287.351


Any dog Bite
  • Public place, or
  • Private place where person has legal right to be, including dog owner's property



Provocation Trespass - person injured was not lawfully on property
Minnesota MN ST 347.22

Any dog Any injury or attack
Any place where victim has legal right to be

Provocation
  • Person injured was not acting peaceably
  • Person injured was not in a place where s/he had a legal right to be
Mississippi
Missouri MO ST 273.036

Any dog
  • Bite to person, or
  • Damage to property or livestock

  • Public place, or
  • Private place where person has legal right to be, including dog owner's property


Provocation Contributory fault

Montana MT ST 27-1-715

Any dog located within an incorporated city or town
Bite to person
  • Public place located within an incorporated city or town, or
  • Private place where person has legal right to be, including dog owner's property, located within an incorporated city or town



Provocation
  • Person bitten was in a place where s/he did not have a legal right to be
  • Person bitten was outside of an incorporated city or town
Nebraska NE ST 54-601

Any dog Damage to person, firm or corporation

Presumably any place where person has legal right to be

Not provided
Trespasser excluded
Nevada
New Hampshire NH ST 466:19

Any dog Damage to person or property

Presumably any place where person injured had a legal right to be
Not specifically provided
Person injured was committing a trespass or other tort

New Jersey NJ ST 4:19-16

Any dog Bite to person
  • Public place, or
  • Private place where person has legal right to be, including dog owner's property



Not provided
Trespass - person injured was not lawfully on property

New Mexico
New York NY Ag & Mkts Sec. 123

Dangerous dogs only (dog previously declared "dangerous")


Injury caused to a person, companion, farm or domestic animal

Any place Not provided

Dog was coming to the aid or defense of a person during a murder, robbery, burglary, arson, rape, criminal sexual act, or kidnapping within the dwelling or upon the property of the dog's owner


North Carolina N.C.G.S.A. § 67-4.4 Dangerous dogs only (dog previously declared "dangerous")

Injuries or property damage inflicted upon a person, property, or animal

Presumably any place Not provided Not provided
North Dakota
Ohio OH ST 955.28

Any dog Any injury, death, or loss to person or property

Presumably any place where person had a legal right to be

Person injured was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog on the owner's property

Person injured was committing

  • criminal trespass or another criminal offense (other than a minor misdemeanor) on the property of the owner, or
  • a criminal offense other than a minor misdemeanor against any person

Oklahoma OK ST T. 4 Sec. 42.1

Any dog Any damages
Any place where victim has legal right to be


Provocation Not provided
Oregon
Pennsylvania PA ST 3 P.S. § 459-502

Any dog Any cost for medical treatment



Any place Provocation (see Commonwealth v. Hake, 738 A.2nd 46 (Pa Commw. Ct. 1999).

Not provided
Rhode Island RI ST 4-13-16

Any dog Assault, bite, or other injury to any person
While traveling the highway or outside of the enclosure of the dog's owner or keeper


Not provided
Dog was in enclosure on owner's property or was not traveling the public highway

South Carolina SC ST 47-3-110

Any dog Bite or other attack

  • Public place, or
  • Private place where person has legal right to be, including dog owner's property

Provocation
Trespass - victim not in a place where s/he has a legal right to be
South Dakota
Tennessee TN ST 44-8-413

Dogs running at large/not under reasonable control

Any damages
  • Public place, or
  • Private place where person has legal right to be



Injured person was enticing, disturbing, alarming, harassing, or otherwise provoking the dog


  • Military or police dog
  • Trespass upon the private, nonresidential property of the dog's owner
  • Dog protecting the owner or innocent person
  • Dog was securely confined (i.e., kennel, crate, etc.)
If dog causes damage while on its owner’s property, then claimant must show owner knew of vicious propensities.

Texas
Utah UT ST 18-1-1


Any dog Any injury
Presumably any place
Not provided

State, county, city, town, and peace officers not liable for injury committed by a dog when:

  • Dog has been trained to assist in law enforcement, and
  • Injury occurs while the dog is reasonably and carefully being used in the apprehension, arrest, or location of a suspected offender, or
  • Injury occurs in maintaining or controlling the public order.
Vermont
Virginia
Washington WA ST 16.08.040

WA ST 16.08.060

Any dog Bite
  • Public place, or
  • Private place where person has legal right to be
Provocation
Trespass
West Virginia WV ST 19-20-13


Dogs running at large Any damage to person or property

Presumably any place but owner's property

Not provided Dog on owner's property

Wisconsin WI ST 174.02

Any dog Any injury to a person, domestic animal or property

Presumably any place
Comparative negligence (See Becker v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 141 Wis.2d 804, 808, 416 N.W.2d 906 (Ct. App. 1987))

Dog used in law enforcement
Wyoming
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