Have you been injured, attacked, or harmed by a dog?
Louisiana has a dog bite law in place to protect people who may have suffered as the result of violence or viciousness from a dog. If this applies to you or a loved one, you may have a lot of questions about what to do and where to go from here, and you may need to speak to an personal injury law office in Baton Rouge for further assistance.
Below is our complete guide to dog bite law in Louisiana. This article will help you to understand all aspects of the dog bite law and the proper steps you should take if you have been the victim of an attack by a dog.
Fast Facts About the Dog Bite Law
Most states have laws in place for what happens when a dog attacks and injures a person. Louisiana is no exception to this. There are laws in place that help to determine whether dog owners are liable for their pet’s violence or misbehavior.
What Does the Law State?
Section 2321 of the Louisiana Civil Code is the relevant section of Louisiana law that pertains to dog bite claims. It states that “The owner of an animal is answerable for the damage caused by the animal.”
That seems pretty cut and dry. However, the law goes on to state that the pet owner is responsible for the damage “only upon a showing that he knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known that his animal’s behavior would cause damage.”
In other words, if the damage or injury caused by the dog could have been prevented, the dog owner is held liable.
However, there are still more caveats to the law to be aware of. The law also goes on to say that the dog owner is liable for injuries or damages caused as long as they did not result from “the injured person’s provocation of the dog.”
So — if you have been injured by a dog through no fault of your own, and if the dog’s owner failed to exercise reasonable care that could have led to a different outcome or even prevented the occurrence altogether, you are likely entitled to some sort of restitution for your experience.
What About Other Kinds of Injuries From a Dog?
This is a great question. It’s important to note that other kinds of injuries can occur due to attack from a dog — not just bites.
Referring to Section 2321 of the Louisiana Civil Code as the “dog bite law” may be misleading because it is just a nickname. The law does not cover only bite wounds, as the nickname suggests, but any type of damage caused by the animal.
For example, if a large dog jumps on a person, knocking them down and causing bodily harm, this situation is also covered under the “dog bite law.”
Basically, in any case where the dog owner could have prevented the harm but failed to do so, the dog owner is usually held liable. As long as the injured person did nothing to provoke the animal or invite the attack, they are not at fault and the dog’s owner is responsible for making amends to the victim.
A Dog Owner’s Criminal Liability
Louisiana has passed a law that allows criminal charges to be filed when a dog causes severe injury to someone. Several other states have done so as well.
In Section 102 of the Louisiana Criminal Code, it states that a $300 fine can be imposed on any person who does not properly restrain a dangerous or vicious dog that they own. Then, if that dog happens to attack someone and cause injury, the owner can face up to a $500 fine and may even have to spend six months in jail!
Criminal charges being brought against a dog owner is different from an injured person filing a civil claim against the dog owner. In the case of criminal cases, the dog owner faces punishment and the suit is typically filed by the state or local prosecutor.
However, in a civil case filed by an injured person, the aim is typically to receive monetary rewards for the damage caused (not necessarily to press criminal charges).
What Should I Do If I Was Injured in a Dog Attack?
Here are some practical steps you can take if you were injured in a dog attack.
Seek Medical Attention
This may seem obvious, especially if the injuries are severe, but you should immediately seek medical treatment if you have been injured by a dog. Dog bites can cause more than just serious injury — there is even the risk of death, disease, or infection if the wound is not treated properly.
Victims of dog attacks must not take matters into their own hands by trying to treat their injuries themselves. Seeking medical treatment is the only way to mitigate the risks posed by dog attacks and may provide important pieces of evidence if the situation is brought to court. You should also obtain a police report, whether you are currently thinking of taking legal action in your dog bite case. This way, you will have this info for later if you decide to meet with an attorney after learning about Louisiana dog bite laws.
Understand the Dog Bite Law
After seeking medical attention, the first and most important thing you should do if you have been injured by a dog and believe you are entitled to some sort of compensation is to understand the dog bite law in Louisiana.
The fact that you’re here is a good sign! Reading all you can on dog bite law so that you fully understand your rights in this situation is an important step in figuring out how to move on from this unfortunate event.
Doing your research so that you have a good understanding of all the different aspects of dog bite law is essential. Before you do anything else, you should have a good grasp on exactly how the Louisiana law protects you in the case of attack or injury by a dog.
Do You Have A Valid Case?
As described above, dog bite law states that dog owners are liable for damage or injury caused by their dog as long as two requirements are met:
1) Reasonable care taken by the dog owner could have prevented the attack.
2) The injured person did not provoke the attack.
If these two scenarios do not apply to your case, it may be difficult (but not impossible) to win your case in court. Before deciding whether you are going to take legal action, you should make sure that you are aware of these two caveats of the dog bite law.
On the other hand, if these two factors are applicable to your scenario, then by all means, you likely have a strong case for taking legal action and holding the dog owner liable for the damage caused.
Should you decide to seek legal restitution for your suffering as the result of a negligent dog owner’s lack of proper pet care, it’s important to be open to having a legal expert by your side.
Consider Hiring A Lawyer
If you were injured or harmed by a dog, you should consider hiring a lawyer to defend your case and ensure that justice is served.
Court cases can get tricky, especially if the situation is not cut and dry or if there were no witnesses. In addition, if the dog owner is fighting back against your claims, you will want to consider hiring a lawyer for help getting through the legal process and ensuring that true justice is served.
See the next section for more advice on this aspect of recovering from a dog bite attack.
Should I Hire A Lawyer For a Dog Bite Claim?
The short answer is, usually, yes. Here are a few reasons why you should hire a lawyer when it comes to dog bite law.
Often times, dog attacks occur from dogs that are familiar to the injured person, because the dog belongs to a friend, neighbor, or relative of the victim. This can make the situation rather sticky. However, know that filing a dog bite claim does not have to ruin or harm the relationship. Hiring a lawyer can help to ensure that this process goes as smoothly as possible.
You should also keep in mind that hiring a lawyer will actually help you to get more money than you would get on your own. Lawyers are trained professionals and know what they’re doing. Entrusting the process to them means that you both win.
Hiring a lawyer is not expensive when you realize how much more you will receive as a result of hiring a legal professional to handle your case.
Dog bite cases can get tricky in Louisiana. The law is generally straightforward, but victims of dog attacks need to understand that they will be required to prove that the dog’s owner could have prevented the attack by taking reasonable steps of proper care. Because of the language of this law, a dog bite victim will have to demonstrate that the dog posed a clear risk of harm that the owner was negligent about or chose to ignore altogether.
The victim will also have to show evidence of more simple matters, such as the fact that the dog owner was indeed the person responsible for the dog — and that the dog clearly did cause definite injury or harm to the victim. Victims may also need to defend or demonstrate exactly how much harm was caused by this attack or the extent of loss or injury.
For someone not trained in handling complicated legal cases, all of this can be very challenging. That’s why hiring a lawyer is the best route to take when tackling dog bite cases in Louisiana.
Hiring a lawyer to defend you in a dog bite case is a wise move for many reasons — not the least of which is the fact that going this route will ultimately lead to way less stress and way more money than if you handled it all on your own. As shown above, dog bite cases can become complicated legal battles. Not having to fret about the details will put your mind at ease and help you to cope with the attack in a more healthy and proactive way.
Your lawyer will be available to answer your questions and make sure you get through this in the best way possible. Your lawyer will also be able to fully explain dog bite law to you and successfully defend your case in a court of law.
More Advice If You Have Been Attacked by a Dog
Being the victim of a dog attack goes beyond just legal and financial burdens. The repercussions of this experience can show up in other ways, such as emotional and mental suffering.
Being attacked by an animal, especially a common pet that you are likely to encounter again many times in your life can be a very traumatic experience. The emotional and mental wounds caused by such an event can be long-lasting and devastating if no steps are taken to heal and overcome the trauma.
If you have been the victim of a dog attack, consider going to counseling to work through some of the fear and suffering caused as a result of this event. Going to counseling can help you move on from the experience a stronger person. If you do not address the unpleasant emotions that may come up as part of your physical and emotional recovery process, you may continue to unnecessarily endure the suffering caused by this attack for many years to come.
Know the Time Limits
It’s important to be aware that dog bite cases have an expiration date. The statute of limitations, or time limit for filing a claim, must be adhered to in order to have a valid case. Those affected by a dog attack of any kind should know that they have one year from the date of the incident to file a legal claim against the dog owner.
If a person does not bring the dog bite case to court within one year of the attack happening, the judge will almost certainly dismiss it and there is nothing more to be done. If you intend to bring a case against a dog owner in a court of law, you should make sure to do so in a timely manner.
If you’ve been injured by a dog, Stephen Babcock of Babcock Injury Lawyers is standing by to help you.
Your case — and your future will be our top priority. When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free, and after you hire us you will have Stephen’s 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee.
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