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.

A dog owner is responsible for his dog’s conduct. If you are attacked or injured by the dog always report the incident to the police or the animal control department.  If the owner of the dog has homeowners insurance, you will be able to make a claim against the owner’s policy.  The first thing you should do if you are bitten by an animal is to seek medical attention immediately. If you are not treated, an animal bite can cause serious injury, infection, and even death if the animal was diseased. Once you have been medically evaluated, you should also consider consulting a lawyer with experience in animal bite cases. An attorney will be able to tell you whether you have a legal claim, and what damages you may be able to recover.

An attorney will ask you for detailed information about the circumstances surrounding your animal bite. At a minimum, you should provide the name and phone number of the animal’s owner. If you don’t have this information, a neighbor or a witness might be able to provide it to you. Also, if there were witnesses, you should get their names and contact information as well.  In deciding who is responsible for an animal bite, the first thing to determine is: who is the owner of the animal? Utah imposes what is known as “strict liability” upon animal owners whose animals bite or attack others. Under the theory of strict liability, an owner is legally responsible (“liable”) for an animal bite, regardless of whether the owner did anything wrong with respect to protecting others from attack. Under this theory, even if the owner had no reason to know that his or her animal was dangerous, if the animal bit someone, the owner would still be liable.

Determining whether an owner knew of an animal’s “dangerous propensities” can be difficult. The first question that often arises in making this determination is whether the owner needs to know of the particular animal’s potential for harm, or whether the owner only needs to know that type of animal is potentially harmful. For example, when a person has a pit bull as a pet, does that mean the owner knows or should know the pet will be harmful, just because, in general, pit bulls can be harmful?  There are instances in which an owner of a vicious animal might not be held liable for an attack by the animal. For example, if the animal owner adequately warned other people that the animal was dangerous, and took measures to keep the animal away from people, a person who ignored the owner’s warnings and was injured by the animal might not successfully sue the owner. In legal terms, the injured person’s behavior in such a situation is known as “contributory negligence” or “assumption of the risk.” An injured person is contributory negligent when he or she fails to exercise the degree of care for his or her safety that a reasonable person would exercise under similar circumstances.

Depending on the seriousness of injuries resulting from an animal attack, you may be entitled to recover for Medical expenses, lost wages, Pain and suffering and Property damage.   In some instances, you may also be entitled to punitive damages, which are awarded to punish someone for his or her behavior.  To justify an award of punitive damages, the wrongdoer’s conduct usually must be more than negligent, such as reckless or intentional conduct. For example, if a dog owner knew his dog was very dangerous, yet repeatedly allowed the dog to run free near a school, and the dog eventually attacked a child, a jury could conclude that punitive damages were appropriate.

If an animal has bitten you or a loved one, you may be entitled to recover damages for any injuries that resulted. Determining your legal rights can be complicated, and it may be unclear who to bring a claim against, and to what sort of damages you are entitled.  If you were injured by a dog in a bike accident you should consider contacting the experienced Dog bite attorneys of William Rawlings & Associates.  We offer a free consultation and you pay nothing until we win or settle your case. …Guaranteed!