One Bite Rule for DogsMany dog owners may be aware of the “one bite rule,” but may not realize Ohio does not follow this rule.

Essentially the one bite rule says a dog’s owner is liable for injuries caused by the dog only if the owner knew or had reason to know the dog was likely to cause that kind of injury. The rule puts the owner on notice that his dog bites and he is expected to control the animal’s behavior in the future. The one bite rule gives the dog’s owner a warning.

Only 17 states follow the “one bite” rule—Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

Ohio does not offer the warning outlined above. Both strict liability and negligence govern Ohio dog bite law. Under strict liability if the dog bites someone, the dog’s owner, harborer or keeper is automatically liable, with very few exceptions.

Despite Ohio’s stricter approach to regulating dog bites, it was recently announced by State Farm Insurance that Ohio ranks third in dog bite insurance claims nationwide with $4.2 million paid in 221 State Farm claims statewide during 2013. Counting all insurance claims for 2013, Ohio ranks third with 948 claims statewide costing $17.9 million.

Only New York and California reported more dog bite activity than Ohio. Texas and Pennsylvania rounded out the top five states with the most dog-bite insurance claims.

Dogs have rounded teeth and the pressure exerted by their jaws can cause significant damage to the tissues under human skin, as well as damage to bones, muscles, tendons, blood vessels and nerves. The individual who is bitten can also be at risk for tetanus and even rabies. More than 30,000 dog bite victims annually require constructive surgery and 880,000 people a year visit a hospital emergency room for a dog bite injury. Even more tragic, between 15 and 20 people of various ages in the U.S. die each year from a dog attack.

Who is at Risk of Being Bitten?

Men are more frequently bitten than women as are children aged 5 to 9 years old. Child victims more frequently seek medical attention.

If there is a dog in the home, the risk of being bitten increases, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The more dogs there are, the greater the risk. According to the CDC, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year and 90% of all animal bites are dog bites. There are an estimated 75 million dogs living in the United States.

If you are one of those people, or if a loved one has been bitten, try to find the owner of the dog so you can ascertain if its rabies shots are up to date. Clean the wound as well as you can and go to an emergency room or doctor’s office if you have any doubts about the seriousness of the injury. Keep a copy of your bill and any treatment instructions.

If you decide you may have a dog bite claim, please seek the advice of an experienced dog bite attorney by calling Slater & Zurz LLP at 1-888-534-4850.

At Slater & Zurz LLP your case will always be handled with the utmost priority and the attorneys of the firm will never fail to provide you with exceptional client service as you seek the compensation rightfully owed to you.

More information about dog bites is available at