As the weather becomes warmer, dogs and children alike will spend more time outside playing in their yards. Once school lets out for summer, children will be playing outside for far longer hours each day, often putting them into contact with dogs that can potentially bite and cause injuries.

When a dog bite results in an injury, the victim may seek compensation for his or her damages through a personal injury claim. A victim can only recover compensation if another party is liable for his or her damages. In a dog bite, the liable party is not always obvious. Dog bites are not like other types of injury case in that the doctrine of strict liability applies.

Strict Liability in Dog Bite Cases

Strict liability means that when a dog bite occurs, the dog’s owner is liable for the victim’s damages regardless of whether he or she acted in a negligent or intentionally harmful manner. It is important to note, though, that this does not mean that the dog’s owner is liable in all cases. There are circumstances under which a dog’s owner’s liability is waived.

Wisconsin’s dog bite law states that if a dog’s owner knew about the dog’s aggressive tendencies before the bite occurred and the bite broke the skin and causes permanent scarring or disfigurement, the owner may be required to compensate the victim twice the dollar amount of his or her damages. Knowledge of a dog’s aggressive tendencies is defined as knowing that the dog had previously bitten a victim and broken the skin to cause scarring or disfigurement.

A victim may file an action to have the dog euthanized. Generally, the court will agree to have a dog put down if both of the following circumstances apply:

  • The dog caused severe injuries on two or more occasions without reason, such as provocation; and
  • The dog’s owner knew that his or her dog caused the first injury before the second injury occurred.

What if a Dog is Provoked into Biting a Victim?

This is the scenario under which a dog owner’s liability for the victim’s damages are waived. If a dog is provoked into biting a victim, the victim might not be able to recover compensation for his or her damages or his or her compensation package may be reduced. Provocation can include teasing a dog, chasing or cornering the dog, or striking the dog with an object or projectile, such as a BB pellet.

Work with an Experienced Appleton Dog Bite Lawyer

Sadly, avoiding dog bites in Wisconsin is not always possible. If you or your child is bitten by a dog, seek medical attention for the bite as soon as possible to ensure that it is cleaned and treated properly. Left untreated, a dog bite can become infected, which can have severe complications for a victim. After receiving treatment for the bite, contact the experienced Appleton personal injury lawyers on our team at Hammett, Bellin & Oswald, LLC to schedule your initial consultation in our office.