Dog bite laws vary from state to state. Some states have enacted statutes to determine liability, while others still abide by the common law. Oregon is a “one-bite state” which is in accordance to common law principles. So, dependent upon surrounding circumstances, if a dog bites another person the victim can seek recovery under the “one-bite rule,” by claiming negligence, or by showing that the dog owner violated a related ordinance.
The time limit to file a dog bite claim in Oregon is 2 years. In order for a dog owner to be held liable, the dog must have been unprovoked, and the dog must be considered a “potentially dangerous dog.”
Dog owners are liable for injuries that their canine companion inflicts upon others if they knew or had reason to know of the dog’s dangerous propensities. If the dog has never shown vicious behavior towards people by biting, growling, or showing other threatening behavior then the dog owner would not be on notice that the dog may cause harm. Should the dog then bite someone, that first bite victim would not be able to seek recovery from the dog owner—hence “one-bite” rule. After the first bite, the dog owner is on notice that the dog has dangerous propensities and will be held liable for any resulting injuries.
A potentially dangerous dog under Oregon law is a dog that does any of the following:
- Menaces a person, by growling or showing other threatening behavior, in a public place (while the dog is not on the owner’s property)
- Inflicts physical injury upon a person by biting or attacking in another way
- Injures or kills a domestic animal in a place that is not on the owner’s property
The dog owner will be held liable for all resulting damages if any of these situations occur as long as the dog was not provoked.
A negligence claim is based on a duty to take reasonable precautions to prevent foreseeable harm caused by the animal. A dog owner has the duty to act as a reasonably prudent person to prevent their canine companion from harming members of society. It is the victim’s burden to prove that the dog owner acted negligently and did not meet the legal standard of conduct, and show that due to the dog owner’s conduct the injury occurred.
If a victim can prove that the dog owner violated a relevant ordinance such as a “running at large” ordinance, then the victim can form the basis of a claim for negligence per se. Negligence per se determines that the dog owner acted negligently simply because he broke the law. Typically, a “running at large” ordinance is enacted to prevent dog owners from allowing their dogs to run free without a leash. If a dog owner allows the dog to run free in violation of that ordinance, even accidentally, he will be held liable if the dog then bites someone.
Look for a Oregon dog bite lawyer today for more help.