Who Is Liable in an Oregon Dog Bite Case?

Dog bites can cause serious injuries and infections, as well as permanent scarring and disfigurement. In Oregon, state law makes it possible for dog bite victims to sue the owner of the pet under multiple legal doctrines. Understanding who is liable, or legally and financially responsible, for your dog bite injury may require a consultation with an attorney.

Oregon’s Dog Bite Statute: ORS 31.360

Like many states, Oregon has a law that specifically addresses dog bite injury liability. It is located in Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) Section 31.360. This law states that for the purpose of establishing a claim for economic damages, a plaintiff does not need to prove that the owner of a dog could foresee that the dog would cause an injury. This is known as a strict liability dog bite statute.

A strict liability law means that a pet owner is automatically responsible for bodily injuries or property damage caused by his or her dog, regardless of whether the owner had knowledge of the dog’s propensity for violence or could have done more to prevent the injury. This law applies to dog bite injury cases in Oregon that are filed for economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages associated with the animal attack. This statute does not, however, apply to non-economic.

A one-bite rule, on the other hand, states that a dog owner will only be found liable for a dog bite injury if the pet owner knew or reasonably should have known that the dog would cause the injury; for example, if the dog had bitten someone previously. In this case, it could be argued that the owner of the dog should have foreseen that the dog would cause the injury and taken steps to prevent an attack.

Negligence and Dog Bite Cases

In addition to the state’s strict liability rule, a dog bite victim in Oregon can also hold a pet owner responsible for negligence. Negligence is the failure to use an ordinary level of care based on the situation. If there is evidence that the owner of a dog had reason to know that the dog was abnormally dangerous, he or she could be liable for harm done by the dog. This includes harm intentionally done by the dog owner or neglect to prevent a dog attack.

Landlord Liability for a Dog Bite Injury in Oregon

The owner, keeper or controller of a dog that bites someone is most often the defendant (liable party) in a dog bite injury claim in Oregon. However, it is sometimes possible to hold a third party responsible for a dog attack, depending on the circumstances.

Defenses to a Dog Bite Claim in Oregon

If a claim is brought for a dog bite injury, the defendant has the opportunity to present a defense. Oregon’s dog bite law states that the strict liability doctrine will not apply if the victim’s physical injury was a result of the victim provoking the dog, assaulting the dog’s keeper or trespassing on the dog owner’s private property. In these scenarios, the victim may not have legal grounds to pursue compensation from the pet owner. If the victim does sue, the dog owner could have the case dismissed by showing evidence that supports one of these defenses.

For more information about the legal side of a dog bite injury case in Oregon, contact an attorney at NW Injury Law Center to request a free consultation with an attorney.

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