Last month, an Elyria woman was arrested after her pit bull mix attacked another woman as she walked along the sidewalk in the 1200 block of Middle Avenue. According to a police report cited in a Cleveland.com story, the 50-pound pit bull mix bit the 59-year-old victim several times on her hands. The dog’s owner told police that the dog escaped a fenced-in area of her home and attacked the victim. The owner said she thought the fence was secure.

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they are still animals that can bite humans for any number of reasons. Any dog, regardless of size or breed, can cause scarring and injuries through a bite.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the U.S. Almost 1 out of 5 bites becomes infected. Among children, the rate of dog-bite–related injuries is highest for those 5 to 9 years old. Children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites.

Dog attacks and dog bites must not be treated lightly. A dog bite is a serious injury; it can cause permanent scarring and major bodily damage, as well as emotional trauma that potentially lasts a lifetime. Immediate medical treatment is often needed to treat the bite wound, and depending on the extent of the injury, ongoing rehabilitation may be necessary to help victims cope with a variety of effects.

When a Dog Bite Occurs in Ohio, Who is Liable?

Ohio has strict statutory liability for dog bites. In other words, Ohio law explicitly makes dog owners liable for every bite—including the first one. Ohio’s dog bite laws state that if a dog attacks and bites someone, in most cases the dog’s owner is responsible. A victim does not have to prove the dog’s owner was negligent. The dog owner is responsible unless the victim was trespassing, teasing or tormenting the dog.

According to Ohio law, a “keeper” of a dog may also be liable for a bite. If, for example, a dog’s owner leaves a dog with a parent while he or she leaves town, that parent is the keeper of the dog. If the dog attacks someone, the keeper is liable.

Additionally, a “harborer” of a dog may be liable when a bite occurs. A harborer is defined as a person who controls the place where a dog resides. For example, if a son or daughter lives with their parents and owns a dog, the parents are harborers. Under certain circumstances, the harborer of a dog can also be a landlord.

What Should You Do if You or a Loved One is Bitten by a Dog?

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog and the attack resulted in injury, there are two actions you should take as soon as possible:

  • Seek medical attention. Dog bites can cause scarring and serious injuries. When untreated, dog bites can cause infection and possibly even death if the dog was diseased.
  • Get legal advice. Soon after receiving medical treatment, it is in your best interests to consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling dog bite cases. An experienced dog bite attorney will gather the necessary information and determine whether or not you may have a legal claim against the dog’s owner. With the help of experienced legal counsel, you can pursue compensation for things such as emergency medical care, hospitalization, doctors’ visits, ongoing care, lost wages, and emotional pain and suffering.

Timing is Key – Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Ohio

In Ohio, there are actually two Statutes of Limitations for dog bites, depending on the theory of liability under which a victim’s attorney chooses to pursue a dog bite case. Victims can pursue a case under the Strict Liability Statute; or a dog bite victim may pursue a case under the Common Law of Negligence. Under the Strict Liability Statute, the Statute of Limitations is six years from the date of the incident, or six years after the victim’s 18th birthday if the victim was a minor at the time of the bite. Under the Common Law of Negligence, the Statute of Limitations is two years. Different and varying amounts of damages may be recovered if a victim pursues the case under the Common Law Negligence theory versus the Strict Liability Theory. Victims and their loved ones should consult with an experienced attorney for specifics.

No Cost Evaluation

At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., we understand that it can be difficult to decide whether or not to file a dog bite lawsuit, especially if the dog belongs to a friend or neighbor. Additionally, the process of gathering the appropriate information and establishing liability can be very complex. The experienced dog bite lawyers of NRS have handled a variety of dog bite cases over many years; we are highly knowledgeable regarding the complexities of dog bite cases and we offer the personalized service that dog bite victims deserve.

In the event you or a loved one are bitten by a dog or sustained a dog-related injury, contact the Ohio dog bite attorneys at NRS Injury Law by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855) GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.

CDC Dog Bite Resources*

* All information courtesy CDC. Visit the CDC Dog Bites Prevention page.

  • Visit CDC’s Healthy Pets Healthy People website for a list of diseases associated with dogs that can make people sick.
  • CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control provides additional information on how to prevent dog bites.
  • The American Veterinary Medical Society (AVMA) provides several resources regarding dog bites.
    • Human-Animal Bond — Dog Bite Prevention
    • Infographic: Dog Bites by the Numbers