A dog attack can be a traumatic event, especially for children (who are disproportionately represented among dog bite victims). Victims of serious dog bite attacks commonly recover lawsuit damages in the tens of thousands of dollars, and a serious injury might be worth a lot more than that. Dog bite lawsuits are generally governed by Idaho state law, although local laws sometimes come into play.
Who You Can Sue
Under Idaho law, you can sue anyone who is responsible for the attack – the dog’s owner, a “dog-sitter”, a dog trainer, or even a landlord who knowingly allows a tenant to keep a vicious dog in an apartment complex.
Theories of Liability
Unlike most other states, Idaho has no specific “dog bite law” upon which you can base a lawsuit. You can still recover damages for a dog attack, however, under general principles of personal injury law that are based on previous Idaho dog bite judicial precedents. Following are the most common theories of liability under Idaho law.
- Scienter: The defendant knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous based on the dog’s prior history of biting people or acting aggressively. This theory is most often applied against a dog owner.
- Negligence: The defendant carelessly failed to protect the victim, either by performing a careless act, or by failing to perform an act, such as repairing a gap in an enclosure, that a reasonably careful person would have performed.
- Negligence per se: The defendant violated a state or local animal control law in a manner that caused the attack to occur (by failing to keep a trained attack dog confined to the owner’s property, for example)
- Intentional misconduct: The defendant intentionally incited the dog to attack the victim.
The statutory deadline for filing a dog bite lawsuit in an Idaho court is two years from the date of the attack. Certain limited exceptions apply.
What You Can Recover For
A dog bite lawsuit is considered a form of personal injury lawsuit. The purpose of a personal injury lawsuit is to, as far as possible through money damages, put the victim is as good a position as he would have enjoyed if the dog attack had never occurred. You may seek the following types of damages:
- Economic damages: In addition to your medical bills, you may also seek compensation for lost work time due to your injuries. If you suffered permanent injuries and are therefore unable to return to your previous occupation, you may seek compensation for all of your future salary losses. Basically, you may seek compensation for any quantifiable expense or opportunity cost that arises from your injury.
- Non-economic damages: Non-economic damages refers to psychological and emotional losses. This might include your pain and suffering, for example, or compensation for long-term emotional trauma (fear of dogs) arising from the attack.
Exemplary damages, designed to punish the defendant rather than to compensate the victim, might be available in cases where the defendant committed criminal misconduct.
Intentionally injuring or killing someone using a dog is treated much like intentionally injuring or killing someone using a knife, and can even result in homicide charges. A dog owner who keeps a dog with a history of at least one unprovoked attack or who has been warned by the local sheriff not to let the dog run free, can be charged with a misdemeanor simply for allowing the dog to run at large. You can use a criminal conviction against a defendant in a civil lawsuit.
If you or a loved one requires legal help, talk to an Idaho dog bite attorney.