Oct 07 2022

Determining Liability in Utah Dog Bite Attack Cases

There are a number of situations where determining liability for an injury or accident is important, and one good example is any case where you or a loved one has been attacked or bitten by someone else’s dog. While most would naturally assume that the owner of the other dog will usually be liable in such cases, it’s important to know the actual law when proceeding in any such situation. 

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’re proud to offer quality attorney services for a variety of personal injury cases throughout Utah, including dog bite and animal attack attorney solutions. Luckily, Utah’s liability laws in such cases are fairly straightforward — and they’re some of the most beneficial in the country to the victims of such attacks, ensuring they get the proper compensation for their injuries and hardship. Let’s go over how these laws work and how liability is considered for any dog or animal attack, plus what you should be doing to ensure you get the right compensation if you’re a victim in one of these.

liability dog bite cases

Utah’s Liability Laws for Dog Bites

Unlike some other states, which have a “One Bite Rule” that only holds the dog’s owner liable for an attack if the dog has previously attacked someone or shown aggression, Utah operates on a strict liability standard, which means that the owner of the dog is held liable for an attack regardless of what their pet has done in the past. This makes it easier to hold owners accountable and get compensation for your injuries if you or someone you care about gets bit by another person’s dog or other animal.

It’s important to note that several forms of protection dog owners may try to use in such cases are not actually viable. For instance, a “Beware of Dog” sign is not a guarantee of protection from liability, and an owner cannot claim that you were trespassing on their property (or even in their yard) if it comes to a legal case.

Furthermore, your burden of proof is generally fairly low in these cases. You do not have to prove any negligence on the part of the dog owner, and you do not have to show that they were aware their dog was a danger to others. You simply need to prove that you or your loved one has been bitten by the other person’s dog.

Comparative Negligence

Now, it should be noted that there are some protections in place for dog owners here as well, especially in cases where attacks were specifically provoked. The key term here is “comparative negligence,” which states that if the victim of the attack was more than 50% at fault for the attack and subsequent injuries, then they will not be eligible for any compensation.

Provocation here may include things like hitting, teasing or otherwise interfering with the dog. Petting a dog typically will not qualify, unless the dog’s owner specifically warned the victim not to do so. Finally, in cases where the victim is a child, comparative negligence typically is not considered, as children often are not old enough to understand this concept.

Criminal Damages

They’re somewhat rare, but Utah law does allow for criminal penalties (and fines) to be applied against a dog owner who is found liable for an attack or bite. The state also allows any victim of such an incident to file a civil lawsuit and seek damages from the other party in that situation as well.

In extreme cases, there may also be an order to put the dog down if it’s shown extreme aggression in multiple situations. However, courts will typically only use this option as a last resort.

Statute of Limitations

Now, these cases do come with limitations on how long after the incident a case can be filed. In Utah, you have four years from the date of the attack to file a civil lawsuit, meaning the courts will not consider any case after that. There are also statutory caps on non-economic damages (pain and suffering) in these cases as well.

This is one area where working with a quality personal injury attorney will be key, as they will know exactly how to build a strong case for you and help you understand your rights.

Kinds of Compensation You May Be Eligible For

If you’ve been the victim of a dog bite attack and someone else is found liable, you may be eligible for several different kinds of compensation:

  • Medical expenses: This includes any costs associated with emergency care, treatment and follow-ups related to the attack. It may also cover compensation for mental health support services if needed as well.
  • Lost wages: If you must take time off of work due to your injuries, this can be a key form of compensation in these cases as it will help you recover lost income.
  • Pain and suffering: This is meant to compensate you for the physical pain and emotional trauma associated with such an attack, as well as any costs related to that.
  • Lost income opportunity: If the attack causes you to be unable to do the same kind of work or perform at your previous level, this is a form of compensation that can help get you back on track.

In any case involving a dog bite or an injury from one, getting the help of a personal injury attorney is a vital step in ensuring you get the right representation. For more on this, or to learn about any of our dog bite or other personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

Dec 06 2019

Basics on Utah’s Specific Personal Injury Laws, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the specific statutes and laws that govern common personal injury cases in Utah. Every state has different rules and regulations for these areas, and these can vary pretty significantly even between states that share borders.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, our personal injury attorneys are here to help you manage any case within our purview, from auto accident cases to wrongful death, dog bite or attack situations and many others. In today’s part two, we’ll go over a few additional areas to be aware of that pertain specifically to the way Utah state law treats certain kinds of personal injury cases.

utah’s personal injury laws

Dog Bite Liability Laws

There are many states in the US that observe that’s known as a “one bite” rule. This rule allows protection for dog owners for only the very first time their dog bites someone, so long as there is no apparent reason the owner could have suspected the dog to be dangerous.

In Utah, though, there is no such rule. In particular, part of the Utah state code makes dog owners strictly liable for their animal’s behavior, even if there is no past history of aggression or violence. If you are bitten by someone else’s dog, there is no burden of proof required that the dog was vicious or violent or that the owner knew about it – the owner of the dog is liable regardless.

Government-Involved Injury Cases

In cases where you are injured or harmed in some way due to negligence from a government employee or agency in Utah, it’s important to know that a different set of standards will be applied to your case. One major area to note here is the time period, which differs from traditional personal injury cases – you have a full year to file a claim in these cases, plus another year to file an appeal if your claim is denied originally.

Our attorneys can provide you with further information on government-related cases if needed.

Medical Malpractice Injury Damage Caps

Along with many other states, Utah places a cap or limit on certain kinds of damages in personal injury cases – namely non-economic or “pain and suffering” damages for medical malpractice. In such cases, the cap for damages is $450,000 so long as the issue occurred on or after May 15, 2010. If the issue occurred before then, there is a sliding scale used that our attorneys will explain to you. This cap, however, does not apply to economic or punitive damages, and only applies to medical malpractice, not all personal injury cases.

For more on specific Utah laws that govern certain personal injury areas, or to learn about any of our attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

Apr 19 2019

Taking Prompt, Proper Action After a Dog Bite

Hopefully this never happens to you, but if you’re ever bitten or otherwise injured by someone else’s dog, it’s possible this party will be liable for your injuries. Dog owners are generally liable for these kinds of injuries with a few exceptions (trespassing, abuse or taunting of the dog, etc.), and this liability may extend all the way to future pain and suffering just like many other personal injury case types.

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we our personal injury attorneys are here to help if you’ve been injured in a dog bite case. How should you respond if you’re bitten or otherwise injured by a dog that isn’t yours? Here are some important areas to make sure you cover.

proper action after dog bite

Seeking Medical Attention

The most important thing after any injury is your own health and safety, and you should see to this first. Seek medical attention right away if your injuries justify it – this includes any puncture wound, even if it doesn’t seem too serious. This is because you never know the cleanliness of that dog’s mouth (it’s likely not great), and you could be at risk for infection even for smaller wounds that aren’t bleeding much.

Wherever possible while seeking medical attention, look for ways to document the services you receive. If you have to attend a hospital or doctor’s office, ask for copies of your bills with detailed lists of the injuries treated. In cases where your face is injured by the dog, you might consider a plastic surgeon for cosmetic areas that standard doctors are not trained on.

Collecting Information

As quickly as possible once you’ve addressed any injuries and are sure you’re safe, begin to obtain information on the incident. The most important piece of information here is on the dog itself and its owner, which will enable you to find out whether there’s a rabies risk or the possibility of other disease.

You should also, however, collect information on the entire circumstance. If any witnesses were present, take their names and ensure they speak with any investigators on the scene – if none are present and witnesses are looking to leave, try to convince them to stay or take their statement yourself.

Reporting to Animal Control

While all dog bite incidents should be reported to animal control, this is of particular importance if you’re not able to identify the owner of the animal. In these cases, it’s imperative that the animal be located and tested for rabies or other conditions that could harm the public.

Legal Assistance

And finally, if you feel you may have a liability case against the dog’s owner, you should immediately contact our offices. We have several great dog bite lawyer options available for you, with significant experience in the field and proving fault to help you get the compensation you deserve.

For more on this, or to learn about any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

Apr 05 2019

Sporting Events and Personal Injury Liability Concerns

At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, we’ve seen virtually every variety of personal injury case out there. While the most common in this category are car accidents and those involving other vehicle types, we also handle cases involving various other injuries, dog bite claims and even trampoline-related injuries.

The moral of the story here: You can be injured in many situations, and just because yours isn’t one of the most common for a personal injury case doesn’t mean you can’t receive compensation if another party was at fault for your injuries. One great example of this is with injuries sustained at a sporting event – let’s go over when you may or may not have liability claims in these relatively unique circumstances.
sporting events personal injury liability

Assumption of Risk

It’s important to note that when you attend a sporting event, particularly one put on by a professional-level team like the Utah Jazz or Real Salt Lake, there’s a legal element known as “assumption of risk” that you are taking. This assumption will generally be expressed in several areas: On your tickets themselves, plus at multiple locations within the arena or stadium. They will also generally be repeated by a public service announcer at some point before the event begins.
Generally speaking, these assumptions cover the reasonable, inherent risks presented by whatever sport you’re viewing. If you’re at a baseball game, then, it’s reasonable to expect that baseballs may fly into the crowd at some point, and you have to be watching for them – if you’re hit by one and weren’t paying attention, you won’t have a claim against the ballpark, for instance. This same level of reasonable assumption applies to any sport based on the basic rules, fields and materials used during play.

Exceptions to Risk Assumption

Now, assumption of risk is not a cover-all rule for arenas or the groups putting on these events. There’s also a reasonable expectation that the venue provide the adequate protections that should be in place.
Take a hockey rink, for example, which in recent decades have all installed protective nettings behind each goal to stop speeding pucks from flying up into the crowd and hitting spectators. If this netting is faulty in a rink you attend and results in a puck injuring you, you very well might have a liability claim against the venue.

Unforeseeable Events

There are other cases where events no one could have predicted lead to injury cases. Often these are incidents between fans, such as fights or similar events. If you’re unsure whether such an event qualifies, ask one of our personal injury lawyers, who can clarify for you.

Safe, Secure Facility

Finally, as we touched on above, it’s the venue’s responsibility to provide a safe and secure facility. This means well-maintained premises, including proper lighting and a maintenance staff that keeps walkways and other public areas clear. It also means hiring and maintaining proper security – certain personal injury cases involving sporting events related to issues where non-adequate security was present to prevent an incident.

For more on whether or not an injury sustained at a sporting event might leave you with a personal injury claim, or for information on any of our personal injury attorney services, speak to the staff at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.

Jul 31 2018

Dog Bite Claims Adjustment Process

If you’re bitten by a dog that isn’t yours, you could be entitled to significant damages and compensation for your injuries and hardship. At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, we have years of experience providing dog bite attorney services to clients in need.

We can walk you through every step of a process you need to navigate carefully to ensure you receive what you deserve. Let’s go over some of the important steps of the insurance claims adjustment process some of our clients tend to struggle with, plus how to handle them properly.

Call from Adjuster

In most dog bite situations, claims will be filed against the homeowner’s insurance policy of the owner of the dog. From here, this insurance company will likely call you – the person making this call is called a claims adjuster.

During this phone call, you will not be asked to negotiate a settlement – that should never be an option without your dog bite lawyer also present. Rather, this call is to gather basic facts about the incident and prepare the claim for the next steps.

Recorded Statement

During this call, you’ll be given the option to record a statement about the incident where the adjuster asks you questions. Firstly, know this: If you don’t feel you’re ready to do this for whatever reason, you’re within your rights to delay this statement. Your attorney or significant other can pass on the message that you need more time before giving an official statement if you aren’t able to do so. Remember that this statement is binding in court, so you should be fully prepared when you give it.

Staying Professional

Questions during this adjuster call may become relatively personal, and it’s even possible the process could be contentious to some small degree. No matter what, you have to stay professional and smart – we’ve seen cases where frustration or simple misunderstanding has led to a victim misunderstanding and actually proposing illegal or unethical solutions to the adjuster, thereby damaging their case. Your dog bite attorney can explain areas you should avoid or be careful in before your call.

Don’t Exaggerate

Never embellish even tiny details of your case during the adjustment process. If anyone finds out, not only could your claim be in trouble, but you could face legal action for filing a false claim. If you truly were harmed outside your own fault in a dog bite case, the real facts will be enough to get you the proper compensation.

For more on the claims adjuster period within dog bite cases, or to learn about any of our personal injury services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC.

Feb 03 2016

Dog versus Bike Accident

dog bites

Some dogs are attracted to moving bikes, shiny spokes, spinning wheels, tires and chains. The question is this: If a dog runs after you while you are riding your bike, what is the best way to handle it? Having a dog or several dogs charging at you can be a very frightening experience.  I know from experience how this feels, as it has happened to me on a few occasions.  It is never a good idea to attempt to get away from a running dog.  Dogs are hunters by nature and have an amazing ability to pick the right angle to catch you as you are riding.  You are more likely to crash and then be confronted with an angry dog, not a good combination.  You should safely come to a stop and put your bike between the dog and you.  If you happen to carry around dog treats for occasions such as this, it would be a good time to throw one far away from you.

Feb 28 2014

Dog Bites or Animal Attacks


If you or someone you know has been involved in a dog bite or animal attack in Utah, we can assist you with your claim. Our Salt Lake City dog bite lawyers will use our decades of experience to get your claim resolved.   We never ask for money up front. We advance all fees and hire expert witnesses to help strengthen your dog bite case. At the conclusion of the case, our firm will be reimbursed through your recovery.  You do not owe us anything until your case is settled.