Hawaii Dog Bite Lawyers
Attacked by Someone Else's Dangerous Dog?
Dog bites and other animal attacks can cause serious illness, personal injury, or even death.
Animal attack laws vary from state to state. Some states have an “every dog gets one bite” rule. The theory behind this law is that the owner should not be liable for its dog’s malicious behavior until he or she is on notice that the dog has a propensity for vicious behavior. Once the dog bites someone, the owner is now on alert that the dog has vicious propensities and is responsible to make sure the dog does not have the opportunity to bite another person.
However, in Hawaii, a victim of a dog bite or animal attack can file a claim for the animal’s very first attack. Several people can be liable for the attack, including the owner of the animal and the owner of the property where the accident occurred. If you were injured by a dangerous dog, you are entitled to seek fair compensation.
Hawaii's Dog Bite Laws: Strict Liability & Negligence
According to HRS §663-9, “The owner or harborer of an animal, if the animal proximately causes either personal or property damage to any person, shall be liable in damages to the person injured regardless of the animal owner's or harborer's lack of scienter of the vicious or dangerous propensities of the animal.”
Hawaii and other states have dog bite laws which hold the owner of an animal who attacked someone strictly liable for the injured person’s injuries. Strict liability is a legal term that means the owner does not have to be negligent to be liable. In fact, the owner does not have to do anything wrong to be found liable for its dog’s attack.
Strict liability laws are enacted in situations where legislatures feel that the behavior in question has such severe consequences that the responsible person should be held liable regardless of the surrounding circumstances.
Because animal attacks are strict liability offenses, animal owners with animals who may strike must take precaution to keep their animals away from people. They must warn people to stay off their property and keep their animals leashed when off their property. They must reasonably control their pets.
Do I Have Grounds to Sue for a Dog Bite?
In Hawaii, you can generally sue for a dog bite under the following circumstances:
- Strict liability: Hawaii follows a strict liability rule for dog bite cases. This means that dog owners are typically held liable for injuries caused by their dogs, regardless of whether the dog has shown aggression in the past or the owner was aware of any aggressive tendencies. As long as the victim was lawfully on public property or on private property with permission at the time of the attack, the owner may be held responsible for damages.
- Negligence: In addition to strict liability, a victim may also have grounds for a lawsuit if the dog owner was negligent in preventing the attack. This could include situations where the owner knew or should have known that the dog had aggressive tendencies but failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the attack, such as properly restraining the dog or warning others about its behavior.
Exceptions to the Strict Liability Rule
In Hawaii, while the general rule is strict liability for dog bite cases, there are exceptions where the dog owner may not be held liable for injuries caused by their pet. Some potential exceptions include:
- Trespassing: If the victim was trespassing on private property at the time of the dog bite, the dog owner may not be held liable under Hawaii's dog bite law. Trespassing refers to unlawfully entering or remaining on someone else's property without permission.
- Provocation: If the victim provoked the dog in some way at the time of the attack, the dog owner may not be held liable for the resulting injuries. Provocation could include actions such as teasing, hitting, or otherwise agitating the dog, leading to the attack.
- Contributory negligence: If the victim's own negligence contributed to the dog bite incident, their recovery may be reduced or barred altogether. For example, if the victim was careless or reckless in their actions, such as approaching a dog aggressively or ignoring warning signs, a court may find that they share some responsibility for their injuries.
It's important to note that exceptions can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. If you've been bitten or injured by a dog, it's advisable to consult with a dog bite attorney in Hawaii who can assess your case and explain your legal rights and options. Our team at Davis Levin Livingston is here to help.
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