Dog Bite Laws in Alabama

Dogs bite approximately four million people annually throughout the United States. Roughly 47% of Alabama residents own dogs. Many of these animals are peaceful; however, some can be aggressive and dangerous, leading to dog attacks. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact our experienced Anniston personal injury lawyers at Steve Morris Law today to learn more about a potential claim or lawsuit.

Alabama Uses Both Strict Liability and One Free Bite

Most states can be classified as either a one free bite state or a strict liability jurisdiction. Alabama’s law is slightly more complicated, where liability depends on the location of the incident. The state uses a hybrid system that has elements of both the strict liability and the one free bite systems. The result is a complicated set of statutes that requires a lawyer to help you navigate.

How you qualify for compensation depends on where the dog attack occurred. There is an element of strict liability in Alabama law when the dog bite occurs either on the owner’s property or when the dog escapes from their owner’s land and chases someone. For example, if you were visiting the dog’s owner in their home with their permission, they would automatically be liable for damages their dog caused from a bite. It does not matter whether the dog has bitten anyone before or whether they have been determined to be dangerous.

However, the law changes when the dog attack occurred on public property, and the dog did not emerge from the owner’s home. You then have a much more strict standard that you need to meet to qualify for financial compensation. In this instance, the one free bite rule applies. One free bite does not strictly mean that the dog had previously bitten someone. The owner could be responsible for what their dog does when the animal has been deemed to be dangerous based on their prior conduct. In other words, if they acted aggressively towards a human or an animal before, the owner would be on notice, and they must take the proper steps to secure their dog on public property.

Unlike a strict liability claim, you must bring evidence showing the dog’s owner acted wrongfully in a negligence case. In this situation, you would have to prove the dog’s owner did not act as a reasonable dog owner would have under the circumstances. The most common illustration of an owner’s negligence is violating leash laws or allowing their dog to roam freely on public property. In addition to using leashes, putting a muzzle on the dog or otherwise preventing them from biting someone are examples of acting reasonably.

The Dog’s Owner Has Defenses to Your Claim

Regardless of whether you are filing a claim based on negligence or strict liability, the dog’s owner may still have their own defenses. For example, the owner can claim that you did something to provoke the dog. However, provocation is a high bar the dog’s owner needs to meet, even more so if the dog bit a child. Usually, provocation involves some type of extreme action that is specifically aimed at inciting the dog.

Your Damages in a Dog Bite Injury Case

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation. If you can prove that the dog’s owner was to blame or that strict liability should apply, the dog’s owner would have a legal obligation to pay for all of the harm you suffered. What the insurance company may define as the average dog bite settlement in Alabama is irrelevant, as every case is unique and compensation varies.

Financial compensation could be paid out to cover such things as the following:

  • Medical bills
  • The cost of reconstructive or plastic surgery
  • Lost wages (including the reduction in your earning capacity if your appearance has been permanently changed)
  • Emotional distress (which can be considerable if a child was the victim of the attack)
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Never make any assumptions about how much your dog bite injury case may be worth or how much compensation you should seek. If the insurance company declines to pay you what you deserve, you have the legal right to file a lawsuit against the dog’s owner.

Contact an Anniston Dog Bite Injury Lawyer Today

Steve Morris Law protects the rights of injured Alabama residents, especially when the insurance company tries to compromise them. We pride ourselves in going the extra mile for our clients and not taking no for an answer. Call us today at 256-357-9211 or message us through our website to schedule a free initial consultation. We are standing by and ready to speak with you.

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