Iowa personal injury lawyer explains the legal elements of a dog bite case

In my experience as an San Diego dog bite attorney, the physical injuries – scratches, bruises, infection, nerve damage, scarring – that may occur in connection with a dog bite almost always are accompanied by psychological and emotional injuries. Often these “unseen” injuries linger long after the physical injuries have healed. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation under Iowa law.

Iowa dog bite law

The Iowa dog bite statute provides broad legal protection to persons injured by a dog. A dog owner is liable (i.e., is held legally responsible) for all damage that results from the dog “attacking or attempting to bite” a person. This means the owner is liable not just for a dog bite, but for any injuries related to an attack. Thus, if a dog chases a person into the street, and that person is hit by a car, the dog owner may be held liable for those injuries. The statute also provides that the owner is liable for damage done by the dog to a domestic animal when the dog is caught in the act of “worrying, maiming or killing” the animal.

The dog bite law is a “strict liability” statute. This means that in order to establish a claim against a dog owner under the law, the injured party must prove only that (1) the dog attacked or attempted to bite him; (2) he was injured; and (3) the defendant (the person being sued) is, in fact, the dog’s owner. It is not necessary to prove that the dog was “dangerous” or that the owner knew or should have known the dog was dangerous. There is no “one free bite” rule in Iowa.
There are, however, two exceptions to the strict liability rule. A dog owner is liable for the dog’s behavior except when the person injured was engaged in an unlawful act (e.g., trespassing; breaking and entering) that contributed to the injury. In addition, the dog bite law does not apply to dogs that have rabies, unless the owner reasonably should have known that the dog was sick and, by reasonable efforts, could have prevented the injury.

Common law liability (judge-made law)

Only the “owner” of a dog may be held strictly liable under the dog bite statute. However, a person in possession of a dog or keeping a dog may be held responsible for injuries inflicted by the dog if “the injuries are the result of known vicious tendencies or properties.” Thus, under this theory of liability, a dog walker or sitter, or a person keeping a dog on his property could be held responsible for a dog bite or other injuries if he or she knew the dog had dangerous tendencies.

Liability for negligence

A dog owner, possessor or keeper may be liable for a dog bite or other related injuries under a theory of negligence, if the victim can establish the required elements of a negligence claim: (1) the defendant had a duty to act with reasonable care under the circumstances; (2) the defendant breached that duty; (3) the breach of duty caused the victim to be injured or harmed; and (4) the victim was, in fact, damaged.

Contact Iowa personal injury lawyer to talk about your dog bite case

If you were bitten or injured by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages (past and future); physical and emotional pain and suffering; and damage to your relationship with your child or spouse. I have been helping dog bite victims for more than ten years. I would be happy to review your case, free of charge, and explain your legal options. If you would like to talk with an experienced Manchester injury lawyer, please tell me about your situation using the Free Case Evaluation form on this page, or email me directly.

Iowa personal injury lawyer