Ohio Dog Bites – Who is Liable?

Dogs are often considered to be man’s best friend. However, that doesn’t mean these animals are always friendly. Indeed, research shows that there are over 4.5 million dog attacks on Americans every year. 800,000 people also require medical attention.

In Ohio alone, dog bites can make up more than 77% of animal attacks each year. That’s why if you have a dog as a pet it’s important to understand Ohio dog bite laws. You need to consider who is responsible for medical expenses in dog bite cases. This is also worth considering if you are suffering from dog bite wounds and need the support of an Ohio dog bite lawyer.

Ohio Law For Dog Bites Explained

For dog bites, Ohio is a strict liability state. Strict liability means that dog owners are liable for every dog bite, even if the dog has never bitten anyone before. This is referred to as the one bite rule.

In a common law jurisdiction, this is not the case. A person bitten will need to prove that there had been a previous dog bite. It is also necessary to prove that the dog’s owner was aware of this incident. Again, in Ohio dog bite cases, this is not necessary.

What Happens If Your Dog Does Bite Someone?

What Happens If Your Dog Does Bite Someone?

According to Ohio dog bite laws, if a dog bites someone, the dog’s owner is liable for the dog bite injuries of the victim.

The dog bite statute in Ohio also stipulates that the animal must be registered as a dangerous dog.

If a person’s dog is registered as dangerous, then they are subject to various restrictions. This includes ensuring that the dog’s leash is no more than six feet. The dog must also be kept in a cage or a yard that is locked. Dogs like this must also wear a tag to highlight that they are dangerous. An owner of a dangerous dog will also need to take out liability insurance if there are more than three bites and the dog lives.

While it is legal to sell a dog marked as dangerous, a county auditor must be informed within ten days of the completed sale.


If a dog does bite someone It needs to be kept in quarantine for ten days after the injury occurred. This is to check whether the dog has rabies. If the dog is found to have rabies the injured person must be treated as quickly as possible. The dog bite victim could even end up in an emergency room.

What Are The Penalties For A Dog Bite?

What Are The Penalties For A Dog Bite?

Typically, the dog bite penalties for a dog owner with a dangerous dog are considered misdemeanors. However, if you do not follow the regulations pertaining to dangerous dogs and the animal kills, the dog owner can be found guilty of a fourth degree felony. In the case of a criminal offense like this, the dog may also be put down.

When Might A Dog Owner Not Be Liable For A Bite?

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Ohio law does cover several exceptions where an owner will not be found liable in the case of a dog bite claim.

If dog bite injuries were sustained when the victim was trespassing or committing another criminal offense, the court will not find the dog’s owner liable. This is why the dog location is often important when investigating a claim.

The owner will also not be found liable in Ohio dog bite cases where victims were teasing, tormenting or abusing the animal in question.

According to the dog bite statute in Ohio, dog bite victims must show that they were at the location of the dog legally to obtain damages. There must be clear proof that the dog was not tormented when the dog bite injury was sustained.

An individual will be considered to be trespassing if they were not invited onto the property. However, a personal injury attorney may argue “implied invitation” if there is nothing to make it apparent members of the public are not allowed. Due to this the circumstances surrounding a case can be complicated.

There is also an Ohio statute of limitations to be aware of. An injured party has six years from the date of the bite to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner. If they do not do this, the court will not find the dog owner liable. You should speak to an Ohio dog bite lawyer if you are concerned that a dog owner may not be liable.

What Compensation Will You Receive From A Dog Bite Lawsuit?

What Compensation Will You Receive From A Dog Bite Lawsuit?

Assuming that when the bite occurred you were not committing a criminal offense such as trespassing, you will be entitled to compensation from the owner. This could include coverage for:

  • Emotional distress
  • Property damage
  • Medical bills

You could also claim for lost wages if the bite was so severe it caused you to miss work.

Do be aware that a restriction which prevents you from claiming under dog bite statute may not stop you claiming under a common law Ohio statute.

However, you may only be able to claim punitive damages. These are designed to punish an owner or dog’s keeper instead of specific compensation. An owner will also be protected by the ‘free bite’ statute if the dog hasn’t bitten anyone before, under common law.

Getting the advice of a personal injury lawyer familiar with Ohio dog bite law can help ensure that you take the right action.

On average, a dog bite claim can amount to more than $50,000 in damages. A claim amount will depend on elements such as why the attack happened and the dog’s status. If a dog injures a child, this will often have more severe ramifications.

In most cases an injured party will be able to claim directly from the owner’s insurance company. Usually, home insurance will cover dog bites. Remember, you should always consult with a law firm before you accept any claim amount.

The first step will be identifying who is responsible for the dog. There could be a keeper or harborer. A harborer controls a dog’s home. An owner may also try to argue it is someone else’s dog. In certain cases, it will be necessary to determine who was responsible for the dog’s behavior and if someone had temporary control over the animal.

It’s also worth noting that in certain cities in Northeastern Ohio, various dog breeds are treated differently. This is something else an attorney can investigate, often during a free case evaluation.

Learn More

Learn More

If you are bitten by a dog or your dog bites someone you should file a report with a health commissioner in your local health jurisdiction. You should then consult with a lawyer. Remember, while Ohio is a strict liability state, cases like this are often complicated. That’s why it’s important to have the support of an Ohio dog bite lawyer that provides the right attorney client relationship. Get in touch now with Dog Bite Lawyer Columbus, Ohio | Erney Law Attorneys to learn more and discover how we can help.