Dogs are often called “man’s best friend,” and for good reason. They provide companionship, loyalty, and unconditional love. However, what happens when this friendship takes a painful turn? While many dogs are loving and friendly, some can exhibit aggressive behavior, leading to unfortunate incidents like dog attacks. These situations can result in severe injuries and complex legal matters, leaving both dog owners and victims vulnerable. If you or anyone you know has been injured due to a dog attack, the expert dog bite injury attorneys at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault can guide you through the legal process. Our Dog Bite Injury Guide offers helpful and reliable information to ensure you know your rights and receive the just compensation you deserve.


The Statistics Speak Loudly


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur annually in the United States. Of these, around 800,000 require medical attention. Alarmingly, children are the most common victims, often suffering more severe injuries due to their size and inability to recognize warning signs.


The Unpredictable Nature of Dogs


Dogs are great companions for adults and children alike. People and dogs spend countless hours interacting and forming strong bonds daily. However, it’s crucial to remember that, regardless of how “human” many dogs might seem, they are still animals. Animals can be unpredictable in certain situations, and objective warning signs of aggression can be missed. Even the most well-behaved dog can exhibit sudden aggressive behavior if it feels threatened or anxious.

Understanding canine behavior involves recognizing the signs of stress and anxiety in dogs. These can include growling, showing teeth, and raised fur. Knowing these signs can help prevent potential incidents and ensure a safer environment for everyone involved.

Preventing Dog Bites


Be cautious around unfamiliar dogs, and treat your pet with respect. Children are often the victims of dog bites, so parents and caregivers should keep these guidelines in mind:


  • Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
  • Stay vigilant for potential risky situations and take steps to prevent them.
  • Remind children to be cautious around unfamiliar dogs, especially while feeding.
  • Teach children, including toddlers, to be cautious and considerate around pets.
    • Advise children not to approach unfamiliar dogs or attempt to pet dogs through fences.
    • Instruct children to seek permission from the dog’s owner before petting any dog.

Additional tips for preventing dog bites:


  • Avoid running past a dog, as it may trigger chasing behavior.
  • Do not disturb a dog caring for puppies, sleeping, or eating.
  • Refrain from reaching over or through a fence to pet a dog.
  • If a dog sniffs you, remain still. Usually, the dog will leave if it finds you non-threatening.
  • Stay calm if threatened by a dog. Avoid screaming, maintain a calm tone, and back away slowly without making direct eye contact.
  • If you encounter an aggressive dog, curl into a ball and put your hands over your head and neck for protection.

Dog Bites in the Workplace


Dog attacks should be reported promptly to employers, especially for high-risk professions like postal workers and delivery drivers. Understanding dog behavior and protective measures is crucial to prevent incidents. Seeking legal advice after a dog bite at work is important for workers’ rights and potential third-party personal injury claims.


Understanding Ohio Dog Bite Laws


Dog bites can be a traumatic event for anyone involved. In Ohio, the legal landscape surrounding dog bite incidents is particularly rigid, making it critical for residents to understand their rights and responsibilities. This blog post aims to shed light on Ohio’s dog bite laws, offering invaluable insights for dog owners and potential victims. We’ll explore the concept of strict liability, delve into the specifics of Ohio Revised Code §955.28, break down the nuances of liability, and provide practical advice on what to do if a dog bite occurs.

Why Ohio’s Dog Bite Law Matters


Understanding dog bite law in Ohio is essential for pet owners and the general public. With Ohio’s strict liability stance, the ramifications of a dog bite incident can be severe. Knowing your legal position can save you from unforeseen consequences whether you own a dog or live in a dog-friendly neighborhood.

Strict Liability: No Free Bites


Unlike some states where a dog is allowed “one free bite” before the owner is held liable, Ohio practices strict liability. This means that dog owners are responsible for their dog’s actions from the first bite, regardless of whether they knew the dog was dangerous. This strict liability extends to anyone who keeps or harbors the dog, not just the owner.

Ohio Revised Code §955.28


Ohio Revised Code §955.28 explicitly states, “The owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or property caused by the dog.” These terms can be complex, making it crucial for all parties to understand their meaning.

Who Can Be Held Liable?


There is usually no confusion about who the dog’s owner is, but the dog’s “keeper” may be more confusing. A dog walker or even a neighbor temporarily watching the dog could be considered the “keeper.” The “harborer” of the dog, who controls the dog’s home, may also be held liable. Further, a landlord may be liable for a tenant’s dog attack in some limited situations. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to take legal action against the dog’s owner, keeper, or harborer, though generally, only one party will be held responsible.

Exceptions to Liability


While Ohio is a strict liability state, there are notable exceptions where dog owners may not be held liable. These include:

  • Teasing, Tormenting, or Abusing the Dog: If the victim was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog at the time of the bite, the owner might not be liable.
  • Trespassing: Liability might be waived if the victim was trespassing on the owner’s property.
  • Attempting to Commit a Crime: If the victim attempted a crime other than a misdemeanor on the property or against a person, the owner may not be held responsible for any injuries.

Ohio Statute of Limitations on Dog Bite Claims



Ohio law sets a strict timeline for pursuing an injury claim due to dog bites or attacks. Depending on the nature of the attack, victims have to file a claim for two or six years from the date of the incident. Further, for minors under 18, the statute of limitations may differ, often extending the period during which a claim can be filed. It’s essential to act swiftly to ensure your legal rights are protected.

Ohio Leash Laws: What You Need to Know


Ohio’s leash laws are less stringent than some might expect. The state does not mandate that dogs be on a leash when off the owner’s premises unless classified as “dangerous dogs” according to Ohio Revised Code §955.22. However, all dogs must be under the reasonable control of someone when off the owner’s property. Additionally, most cities, townships, and villages have specific leash laws, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with local regulations.

Ohio Dog Classifications: Nuisance, Dangerous, and Vicious


Ohio law classifies dogs into three categories based on their behavior: nuisance, dangerous, and vicious. Each classification comes with increased restrictions and responsibilities for the dog’s owner. Notably, police dogs are not subject to these classifications.

Nuisance Dogs: The Mildest Classification


A dog is considered a nuisance if it is at large while off the owner’s property, chases or menaces a person, or attempts to bite a person. Owners of nuisance dogs may be required to undertake mandatory behavioral training for their pets at their own expense.

Dangerous Dogs: Elevated Risks


A dog is deemed dangerous if it causes an injury that is not serious or lethal, kills another dog, or is found at large of the owner’s property three or more times. Owners of dangerous dogs have specific obligations, including:

  • Keeping the dog in a secure pen or locked fenced area.
  • Obtaining a special tag identifying the dog as dangerous must be worn at all times.
  • Use a six-foot leash or a muzzle when the dog is not penned.
  • Acquiring special liability insurance for dog attacks.

Vicious Dogs: Severe Consequences


Dogs that cause serious injury or death to a person or another dog are classified as vicious. Owners of vicious dogs face the most stringent requirements, including potential fines and misdemeanor and felony charges. In some cases, the dog may be euthanized to protect public safety.

Michigan’s Strict Liability Stance on Dog Bites


In Michigan, dog bite liability is taken very seriously. The state operates under a strict liability rule, which means that a dog owner can be held responsible for their dog’s actions, even if the dog has no prior history of aggression. This approach ensures victims receive compensation without proving the dog’s previous behavior.

Exceptions to Owner Liability


Despite Michigan’s strict liability stance, there are specific scenarios where the dog owner may not be held liable. Understanding these exceptions can save you time and effort:



If you provoked the dog, the owner might not be responsible for the resulting bite. Provocation can include teasing, hitting, or any action that would reasonably upset the dog.



If you were trespassing on the owner’s property when the bite occurred, this could negate the owner’s liability. Trespassing includes being on someone else’s property without permission.

Unlawful Activity


If you were engaging in illegal activity on the owner’s property, the owner might not be liable for the bite. This includes committing a crime or any unlawful behavior during the incident.

Michigan Statute of Limitations


The statute of limitations for dog bite claims in Michigan is three years from the date of the incident. This timeline is crucial for ensuring you have the opportunity to seek justice and compensation for your injuries. However, if the victim is a minor, the statute of limitations may differ, so it’s essential to act swiftly.

Leash Laws in Michigan


Michigan law requires owners to keep their dogs on leashes to prevent them from straying. This means you might have a stronger case if you were bitten by a dog, not on a leash. Additionally, various cities, villages, and townships within Michigan have their leash laws, making it even more critical to understand the specific regulations in your area.

Filing a Dog Bite Claim in Michigan


After receiving medical treatment for a dog bite, it’s crucial to file a dog bite claim with the police. Although doctors in Michigan are not required to alert authorities about dog bites, they must inform local animal control officials. Filing a claim helps create an official record of the incident, which can be pivotal if you decide to pursue legal action later.

Immediate Actions After a Dog Attack


Seek Immediate Medical Attention


The first and most crucial step after a dog bite is to seek medical treatment. Dog bites can cause puncture wounds that may become infected with bacteria from the dog’s mouth. Even if the injury seems minor, avoiding caution and seeing a doctor as soon as possible is essential. Quick medical intervention can prevent serious complications like bloodstream infections or inflamed tissues around the heart and joints.

Report the Incident to Authorities


After ensuring your immediate health, you must report the dog bite to local authorities. For example, Ohio’s local health departments investigate roughly 20,000 animal bite and exposure incidents annually. Reporting the incident helps create an official record, which can be useful for making an insurance claim or pursuing legal action.

Gathering Evidence After a Dog Bite


Collect Details About the Dog


Gathering as much information as possible about the dog and the incident is important to build your case. Try to collect the following:

  • Information on the dog’s tags
  • A photo of the dog
  • Photos of your injuries
  • Photos of the location where the incident occurred
  • Names and contact information for any witnesses
  • Also, please note the location of any surveillance or home security cameras.

This information can be invaluable in proving the circumstances of the attack and the severity of your injuries.

Document Your Injuries


Taking photographs of your injuries immediately after the incident and throughout the healing process can provide a visual record of the harm you suffered. These images can be compelling evidence in any legal or insurance claims you pursue.

Keep Records of Medical Treatment


Maintain detailed records of all medical treatments and expenses related to the dog bite. This includes doctor visits, medications, and any other related costs. These records can help substantiate your compensation claims.


Understanding Compensatory Damages


Compensatory damages reflect the losses you suffered due to the incident. These can be classified into two main categories: economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages cover tangible, monetary losses, while noneconomic damages address intangible losses that impact your quality of life.

Economic Damages

Lost Wages


Losing wages is one of the most immediate financial concerns following a dog attack. If your injuries prevent you from working, even temporarily, this loss of income can significantly affect your financial stability. Documenting the extent of your lost wages is essential for your claim.

Reduced Earning Capacity


In some cases, the injuries sustained from a dog attack can reduce earning capacity. This means that even after you return to work, you might not be able to perform at the same level as before. This reduction in earning potential is also compensable.

Ambulatory Services


Emergency medical care often begins with ambulatory services. The cost of an ambulance ride can be substantial, and these expenses should be included in your claim. Make sure to keep all invoices and receipts related to these services.

Medical Costs


Emergency Room Visit


The initial emergency room visit is usually unavoidable after a dog attack. This visit can be costly and includes various services such as consultations, diagnostic tests, and immediate treatments. Keeping detailed records of all medical expenses is crucial for your claim.

Prescription Costs


Post-attack care often involves medications to manage pain, prevent infection, or treat other complications. Prescription costs can add up quickly, and these expenses are recoverable as part of your economic damages.

Noneconomic Damages


Pain and Suffering


Pain and suffering encompass the physical pain and emotional distress experienced due to the attack. Unlike economic damages, these are harder to quantify but are vital for fully addressing the impact of the incident on your life.

Mental Anguish


The emotional toll of a dog attack can be significant. Many victims experience anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental anguish damages aim to compensate for these less visible but equally important effects.



Dog attacks can result in permanent scars or disfigurement. These visible reminders of the incident can impact your self-esteem and social interactions. Compensation for disfigurement acknowledges these enduring consequences.

Emotional Distress


Similar to mental anguish, emotional distress covers the broader emotional impact of the attack. This can include ongoing fear of dogs, nightmares, and other emotional disturbances that affect your well-being.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life


Finally, the overall loss of enjoyment of life is a critical noneconomic damage. This covers how the attack has diminished your ability to enjoy day-to-day activities and experiences you once loved.

Your Experienced Dog Bite Attorneys


Dog bites are traumatic events that can have lasting effects on victims. It’s essential to seek legal representation to ensure your rights are protected and you receive the compensation you deserve. Our experienced dog bite lawyers can guide you through the legal process, provide valuable advice, and advocate.

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog, don’t wait to take action. Contact a personal injury lawyer today to discuss your case and explore your options. With the right legal support, you can focus on your recovery and confidently move forward. For those in Michigan and Ohio, Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault offer the expertise and dedication needed to handle dog bite cases effectively. Contact us today for a consultation and take the first step towards securing the compensation and justice you deserve.

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