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Shreveport Injury Lawyer > Shreveport Dog Bite Lawyer

Shreveport Dog Bite Lawyer

Most of the time, dogs are harmless and sweet companions, providing comfort and joy to their owners. However, when dogs are scared, stressed, sick, or subjected to ongoing abuse, they may lash out and attack. Unfortunately, dog bite incidents are not uncommon, with approximately 4.5 million Americans suffering from such injuries every year, as reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association. The good news is that victims of dog bites have legal options available to them through personal injury lawsuits, especially if the attack has resulted in significant physical, emotional, and financial distress. At Rice & Kendig, our Shreveport personal injury lawyers understand the devastating impact of these incidents and are dedicated to helping victims seek the compensation they need to make a full recovery. If you or a loved one has suffered a dog bite injury, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Shreveport dog bite lawyer at 318-222-2772 to schedule a free consultation today.

Common Types of Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bite injuries can vary widely in severity, ranging from minor cuts and bruises to life-threatening wounds. Some of the most common dog bite injuries that victims should seek medical attention for include:

  • Puncture wounds: Dogs have sharp teeth that can penetrate the skin, leading to deep bite wounds that may become infected if not properly treated.
  • Lacerations: A dog attack can also cause deep cuts and tears in the skin, requiring stitches or even surgical intervention to repair.
  • Fractures: The force of animal bites can fracture bones, particularly in the hands, arms, and legs, leading to significant pain and impairment.
  • Nerve damage: Dog bites can injure nerves, resulting in numbness, weakness, or loss of sensation in the affected area.
  • Infections: Dog saliva contains bacteria that can cause infections such as rabies, tetanus, and cellulitis if the wound is not promptly cleaned and treated by a medical professional.
  • Psychological trauma: In addition to physical injuries, dog attacks can also cause emotional distress, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), particularly in children who may develop a fear of dogs.

What is Considered a Dangerous Dog in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, a dog is classified as “dangerous” under state law (RS 14:102.14) if it has demonstrated aggressive behavior without provocation. This includes instances where the dog has:

  • Bitten an individual,
  • Exhibited threatening behavior towards a person while outside its owner’s premises on multiple occasions within a three-year period,
  • Or inflicted bodily injury or death to another domestic animal while off its owner’s property more than once within a three-year timeframe.

What is Considered a Vicious Dog in Louisiana?

Under Louisiana law (RS:14:102.15), a “vicious” dog is characterized as one that has previously been classified as dangerous and subsequently inflicts severe harm or fatality upon a victim without provocation.

Upon being declared vicious, the dog will be confiscated from its owner and humanely euthanized, with the owner potentially facing a prohibition from dog ownership for a three-year period. Possessing a vicious dog is unlawful, and owners found retaining ownership of a dog deemed vicious may incur penalties of up to $500 in fines and a maximum imprisonment term of six months.

Rules for Owners of Dangerous or Vicious Dogs

If a dog has attacked a person or another dog and has been deemed as dangerous or vicious by a state court, the owner must follow specific rules to protect the public and prevent further injury. These measures entail:

  • Ensuring the dangerous or vicious dog remains securely confined within the owner’s premises,
  • Prominently displaying signs indicating the presence of a “Beware of Dog” or “Dangerous Dog” so that people are warned about the animal’s behavior,
  • Restraining vicious or dangerous dogs with a leash whenever it ventures beyond the property boundaries,
  • And ensuring the dog is vaccinated and licensed. It’s important to note that municipalities in Louisiana are authorized to impose additional fees to cover the administrative costs associated with licensing these animals.

Failure to comply with these rules can result in significant fines imposed on the dog’s owner. Furthermore, in cases where deemed essential for public safety, a court has the authority to order the removal of a dangerous dog from its owner’s custody by local animal control and prohibit the individual from owning any dog for a period of up to three years.

Types of Civil Liability for Dog Bites in the U.S.

In the United States, civil liability for dog bites typically falls under three main categories: negligence, strict liability, and the one-bite rule. Understanding these different types of civil liability is important before pursuing a personal injury case.

  • Negligence refers to the failure of a dog owner to exercise reasonable care in preventing their dog from causing harm to others. This may include actions such as failing to properly restrain the dog or ignoring signs of aggression.
  • Strict liability, on the other hand, holds dog owners responsible for any injuries caused by their pets, regardless of whether the owner was aware of the animal’s dangerous tendencies. This means that the victim does not need to prove negligence on the part of the owner to recover damages.
  • The one-bite rule is a legal principle followed in some states, which holds that a dog owner is only liable for injuries caused by their dog if the owner was aware of the dog’s propensity to bite or attack, typically demonstrated by a prior biting incident. However, many states, including Louisiana, have moved away from the one-bite rule in favor of strict liability statutes.

Does Louisiana Follow the Strict Liability Standard for Dog Bites?

Yes, Louisiana’s primary dog bite law follows the strict liability standard. This means that dog owners in Louisiana can be held strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets regardless of whether they were aware of the dog’s aggressive tendencies or had any prior knowledge of the dog’s propensity to bite. Under strict liability, dog owners are automatically responsible for any damages resulting from a dog bite, regardless of whether they took reasonable precautions to prevent the incident. This statute ensures that victims of dog bites have legal recourse to seek compensation for their injuries without the need to prove negligence on the part of the dog’s owner.

Examples of When the Dog Owner Is Liable Under the Strict Liability Standard

Under the strict liability standard in Louisiana, there are several scenarios in which a dog owner can be held liable for injuries caused by their pet. For instance, if a dog bites a passerby while out for a walk with its owner, the owner would be held responsible for the resulting injuries. Similarly, if a dog attacks a visitor to the owner’s property, the owner would be liable for any harm inflicted by the dog. Additionally, if a dog escapes from its enclosure and injures someone, the owner would still be held accountable for the dog’s actions. These examples demonstrate that under Louisiana’s strict liability statute, dog owners bear responsibility for the actions of their pets, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Examples of When the Dog Owner Is NOT Liable Under the Strict Liability Standard

While Louisiana adheres to a strict liability standard for dog bites, there are instances where a dog owner may not be held liable for injuries inflicted by their pet. For example, if the victim was trespassing on the owner’s property at the time of the incident, the owner may not be held responsible for the dog’s actions. Additionally, if the victim provoked the dog or engaged in behavior that incited the attack, the owner may not be held liable under the strict liability standard. Furthermore, if the dog was acting in self-defense or protecting its owner from harm, the owner may not be deemed liable for the resulting injuries. These examples illustrate that while Louisiana imposes strict liability on dog owners in most cases, there are exceptions where the owner may not be held accountable for the actions of their pet.

What You Have to Prove in a Louisiana Dog Bite Case

When plaintiffs file a dog bite claim, they are required to establish the following key elements with substantial evidence in order to prove their case:

  • Firstly, they must demonstrate that the animal owner knew, or should have known, that the dog has aggressive tendencies and can cause harm to others.
  • Additionally, plaintiffs must show that the dog attack could have been avoided if the owner had exercised reasonable care, such as keeping the dog restrained on a leash, confining it within a fenced area, or providing adequate warning through signage. Failure to take such precautions may indicate negligence on the part of the owner.
  • Plaintiffs must also establish that the owner’s failure to prevent serious injury was a direct contributing factor to the victim’s harm.
  • Lastly, it is essential to show that the dog bite victim did not trespass onto the owner’s property or provoke the dog, as these factors may affect the liability of the owner in the case.

Shreveport dog bite lawyers at Rice & Kendig can fully investigate the situation and gather the evidence necessary to establish these elements.

Common Dog Attack Defenses

In a dog bite case, defendants may employ various defenses to mitigate liability. Two common defenses include:

The Dog Was Provoked

In some instances, defendants may argue that the victim’s actions provoked the dog to attack. Examples of provocation include teasing, hitting, or startling the dog, which can trigger aggressive behavior in even the most docile pets.

The Dog Bite Victim Shares a Portion of the Blame

Louisiana’s comparative negligence law allows for the allocation of fault between the victim and the dog owner. If the victim’s actions contributed to the incident, such as trespassing onto the owner’s property or engaging in behavior that incited the dog’s aggression, their recovery of damages may be reduced proportionally to their degree of fault. This defense asserts that the victim’s actions played a role in the dog bite incident and therefore diminishes the owner’s liability.

Damages That Dog Bite Victims Can Recover in Louisiana

Dog bite victims in Louisiana may be entitled to recover various types of damages to compensate for their injuries and losses. Some of the damages that dog bite victims can recover include:

Economic Damages

  • Medical Bills: Dog bite victims in Louisiana can recover compensation for medical bills related to medical treatment, plastic surgery, medication, rehabilitation, and therapy necessitated by the injuries.
  • Lost Wages: Victims may receive compensation for wages lost due to missed work days resulting from the dog bite incident, including time spent attending medical appointments or recovering from injuries.
  • Property Damage: If personal belongings are damaged during the dog attack, such as torn clothing or damaged items, victims may be compensated for the repair or replacement costs.

Non-Economic Damages

  • Pain and Suffering: Louisiana dog bite victims may recover damages for physical pain, emotional distress, and psychological trauma endured as a result of the attack.
  • Disfigurement or Scarring: Compensation may be awarded for permanent scarring or disfigurement caused by the dog bite, taking into account the impact on the victim’s appearance and self-esteem.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Victims may be entitled to damages to address the diminished quality of life resulting from the dog bite, including the inability to participate in activities they once enjoyed due to their injuries.

A Shreveport personal injury lawyer at our law firm can review your case and ensure that you receive fair compensation for all the physical, emotional, and financial losses you have suffered due to your dog bite attack.

Call Shreveport Dog Bite Lawyers at Rice & Kendig Today

If a dog attacked you or a loved one and caused serious injuries, don’t wait to contact an experienced legal professional. The dedicated team of Shreveport dog bite lawyers at Rice & Kendig is here to help with navigating the complexities of Louisiana dog bite laws and recovering the compensation you deserve for your medical expenses, lost income, and more. With our experience and expertise in handling dog bite cases, we will fight tirelessly to protect your rights and hold negligent dog owners accountable for their actions.

Animal attacks are a very physically and emotionally painful experience that you deserve justice for. Don’t hesitate to contact a Shreveport personal injury lawyer today at 318-222-2772 to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can assist you in seeking justice and obtaining the compensation you need to make a full recovery.

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