Dog Bite Accidents

Dog Bites


Dogs might be man’s best friend, but many are also liabilities. Some dogs might attack humans or livestock, out of aggression, fear, protection, or self-preservation. When a dog’s owner could have prevented an attack but failed to do so, the victim might have legal recourse. A dog bite can cause serious to fatal penetration injuries, lacerations, bruising, infections, disease, and organ damage. If you suffered injuries or a loved one died because of a dog in Baton Rouge, don’t hesitate to contact Murphy Law Firm and our dog bite accident lawyers. We can help you file a claim against the pet owner and recover for your medical bills, physical pain, emotional distress, and more. 

Dog Bite Laws in Louisiana

Each state abides by different dog bite laws, some more sensitive to victims’ plights than others. In Louisiana, the laws aren’t the friendliest to victims, but they don’t make it impossible to recover either. Dog owners are not automatically liable for bites and attacks their dogs cause, as is the case in many other states. Instead, the victim must prove that the dog owner could have prevented the bite. The bite victim will only be eligible for compensation if all of the following are true:

  • The dog owner knew or reasonably should have known the dog’s behavior would cause harm.
  • The owner could have prevented the damage by taking reasonable care.
  • The owner did not take reasonable care in preventing the damage.
  • The injured party did not provoke or taunt the dog.

Only with these four elements will the law make the dog owner “answerable for the damage.” Showing these proofs might take a thorough investigation into the incident, including the location of the accident, the dog’s history, the actions of the owner, and statements from eyewitnesses about what happened. If these four elements are present, the dog owner will be strictly liable for damages, including personal injury and property damage the dog caused.

The Supreme Court of Louisiana in Pepper v. Triplet held, that dog bite victims must prove the dog posed an “unreasonable risk of harm,” as well as proving the defendant owned the dog, the dog caused the harm, and the plaintiff suffered damages as a result. However, a plaintiff might also be able to win a case based on other grounds for liability, including scienter and negligence per se.

As you can see, the legal process for recovering for a dog bite injury isn’t exactly a walk in the park in Louisiana. Retaining a skilled dog bite accident attorney, however, can take the burden of legal action off your shoulders.

Art. 2321.  Damage caused by animals

The owner of an animal is answerable for the damage caused by the animal.  However, he is answerable for the damage only upon a showing that he knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known that his animal’s behavior would cause damage, that the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that he failed to exercise such reasonable care.  Nonetheless, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for damages for injuries to persons or property caused by the dog and which the owner could have prevented and which did not result from the injured person’s provocation of the dog.  Nothing in this Article shall preclude the court from the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur in an appropriate case.

Acts 1996, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 1, §1, eff. April 16, 1996.

§2800.6.  Burden of proof in claims against merchants

A.  A merchant owes a duty to persons who use his premises to exercise reasonable care to keep his aisles, passageways, and floors in a reasonably safe condition.  This duty includes a reasonable effort to keep the premises free of any hazardous conditions which reasonably might give rise to damage.

B.  In a negligence claim brought against a merchant by a person lawfully on the merchant’s premises for damages as a result of an injury, death, or loss sustained because of a fall due to a condition existing in or on a merchant’s premises, the claimant shall have the burden of proving, in addition to all other elements of his cause of action, all of the following:

(1)  The condition presented an unreasonable risk of harm to the claimant and that risk of harm was reasonably foreseeable.

(2)  The merchant either created or had actual or constructive notice of the condition which caused the damage, prior to the occurrence.

(3)  The merchant failed to exercise reasonable care.  In determining reasonable care, the absence of a written or verbal uniform cleanup or safety procedure is insufficient, alone, to prove failure to exercise reasonable care.

C.  Definitions:

(1)  “Constructive notice” means the claimant has proven that  the condition existed for such a period of time that it would have been discovered if the merchant had exercised reasonable care.  The presence of an employee of the merchant in the vicinity in which the condition exists does not, alone, constitute constructive notice, unless it is shown that the employee knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, of the condition.

(2)  “Merchant” means one whose business is to sell goods, foods, wares, or merchandise at a fixed place of business.  For purposes of this Section, a merchant includes an innkeeper with respect to those areas or aspects of the premises which are similar to those of a merchant, including but not limited to shops, restaurants, and lobby areas of or within the hotel, motel, or inn.

D.  Nothing herein shall affect any liability which a merchant may have under Civil Code Arts. 660, 667, 669, 2317, 2322, or 2695.

Acts 1990, No. 1025, §1, eff. Sept.  1, 1990; Acts 1996, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 8, §1, eff. May 1, 1996.

Get Help with Your Louisiana Dog Bite Claim

Whether the dog’s owner is a friend, relative, neighbor, or total stranger, don’t be afraid to seek the recovery you deserve. Asking a personal injury attorney’s help in the matter simply makes sure the owner, insurance companies, and the courts hear your voice loud and clear. It also ensures you don’t make any mistakes that can delay or disrupt the claims process, such as missing Louisiana’s strict one-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims. Murphy Law Firm has dog bite accident lawyers with experience in dog bite law who can help.

A vicious dog attack can leave you permanently scarred, physically and psychologically. You might never look at dogs the same way again, or may feel afraid to walk through a certain part of your neighborhood because of dogs that live there. Child victims are especially prone to lasting mental and emotional damage after a serious dog attack. Don’t let negligent pet owners get away with contributing toward preventable dog bites. Contact our Baton Rouge personal injury attorneys to schedule a no-obligation, complimentary case evaluation.


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