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Liabilities of Dog Owners

If your dog injures someone, you could be on the legal (and financial) hook for medical bills and other losses stemming from the incident.

Sometimes an ordinarily well-behaved companion acts out, and someone is bitten. If that happens, you could be faced with a personal injury claim or lawsuit, brought by the person who was bitten. If there’s no applicable insurance coverage, you could end up paying for the victim's medical expenses and other losses on top of your own legal expenses.

As a dog owner, it's important that you have an understanding of when the law may make you responsible for injuries and other damages caused by your dog, and how you may be able to protect yourself financially in case your dog bites someone. Read on to learn more

Dog Bite Laws in Idaho

Idaho is one of the few U.S. states that does not have a specific dog bite statute on the books. Instead, Idaho dog bite cases are governed by court decisions handed down in the state, as well as the same laws that apply to other personal injury cases in Idaho.

Idaho's Time Limits for Dog Bite Injury Lawsuits

Idaho's statute of limitations restricts the amount of time available to file a dog bite injury lawsuit in a civil court after the injury occurs. Injured people cannot wait indefinitely to file an injury lawsuit; instead, a case must be filed within two years of the date of the injury (in most cases).

Idaho's Dog Bite Liability Laws

Idaho is a "one bite" state when it comes to dog bite claims. In "one bite" states, a dog owner cannot be held liable for a dog bite unless the owner knew or should have known the dog was dangerous, aggressive, or likely to attack. However, a previous bite is not necessary to establish knowledge; an owner can know a dog is aggressive even if the dog has never actually bitten anyone in the past.

Idaho also allows animal injury cases to be based on the common rules of negligence. In a negligence case, a dog's owner is liable for the injuries the dog causes if the owner failed to use reasonable care in handling or controlling the dog, and this failure caused the injuries.

As a dog owner, you might be considered negligent if:

  • You let your dog run free even though there's a local leash law where you live, and she bites a neighborhood kid who is walking home from school.

  • You know your dog is "high-strung" or easily excited, but you don't take reasonable steps to shield others from the dog, (by keeping him in a fenced-in yard, for example) and he jumps on the UPS guy, knocking him to the ground.

  • The fencing you have installed, or the rope or the chain you use to restrain your dog, isn't secure enough to do the job, and he breaks free, injuring someone.

Protect Yourself as a Dog Owner

The best way to make sure your dog doesn’t injure someone is to take as many precautions as you can, to prevent a bite or any other aggressive action. Here are some steps that could go a long way toward protecting others, yourself, and your dog:

  • Put up signs warning visitors about the presence of the dog.

  • Make sure fencing is tall enough and otherwise secure -- that is, there are no holes in it, the dog can’t tunnel beneath it, and any latch works properly.

  • Keep your dog on a leash while you're out in public, regardless of what state and local leash laws require.

Owner Defenses in an Idaho Dog Bite Lawsuit

An owner facing a dog bite case in Idaho has several possible defenses.

Because Idaho is a one-bite state, one of the most common defenses is that the owner didn't know and couldn't have known the dog had acted aggressively in the past.

A dog owner facing a negligence-based case might raise any defense available against negligence.

If you are facing a dog bite lawsuit, call us for a free consultation.