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Dog Bites and Trespasser Rights

A common scene in movies is a plot involving a random kid and a junkyard. For some reason, he’s compelled to revisit the place at night as opposed to normal daytime hours to achieve some kind of higher purpose (or he just gets goaded on by his friends). Around the perimeter of this place are trespasser warning signs that the camera pans over and pauses on to remind the audience that he’s clearly not supposed to be there along with signs warning to “Beware of dog.”

At some point during his mission inside the junkyard, he eventually encounters the dog who enters the scene in slow motion like a deadly mythical creature prompting a chase scene. Nine out of ten times, the protagonist escapes having fulfilled his mission or at least prompting a revisit to the place. But real life doesn’t work like that. Most people end up getting caught and bitten. So regarding this scenario, what is the liability for property owners whose dog bites trespassers? As a general rule, dog owners aren’t usually liable for dog bite injuries when people are trespassing on their property, but that’s not always the case.

Questioning if they are trespassers: Are they really trespassers? As an attorney, like a dog bite attorney from a law office like Eric Roy Law Firm knows, it does come to the question of whether or not they’re really trespassing/are trespassers. Simply entering someone’s property without their permission does not make one a trespasser. Say, for instance, a door-to-door salesman enters a property without a locked gate or a “no soliciting” sign; this is not trespassing. Nothing is indicating that he isn’t supposed to be there and that his presence is not wanted. Nothing is indicating that the perimeter was barred from the outside to make it purely a private space and as a result, the person was not made to vault or otherwise breach the non-existent barrier to enter the property.

Can’t be willful: As it is with all properties, owners can’t be engaging in willful or wanton conduct. That is, they can’t be initiating or instigating situations in which the outcome results in someone getting hurt. In this case, a dog owner can’t be going out of their way to make sure a trespasser gets harmed by their dog, like trapping a trespasser in an enclosed area and letting the dog loose onto the trespasser.

Dangerous tendencies: If the dog has dangerous tendencies or is found to be more aggressive than the average dog. It will need to be kept in an enclosed area while also having it chained to restrict free movement. Warning signs like the previously mentioned will also need to be put up. Doing all this expresses a duty of care and if the trespasser still manages to get injured, the liability is more on him than on the owner.

Have you been injured by a dog biting you? You may be wondering if you have a case against the dog’s owner. If you would like more information regarding a personal injury claim and the owner’s liability, reach out to a local lawyer to see how they can help you with your case. The sooner you talk with a lawyer, the sooner you can get the help you need after a dog bite. 

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