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Does strict liability apply in all Rhode Island dog bite cases?

Under the law in Rhode Island, dog owners are strictly liable for the harm their pets cause to other persons or other pets. We covered the basic details of this law in our previous post on the subject, but we left our readers without an answer to the questions “are there any exceptions or defenses?”

The strict liability law (section 4-13-16) applies to injuries that occur on any property other than that belonging to the dog’s owner. What happens when the accident occurs on the dog owner’s property? Does the law leave victims without recourse? The answer is no.

The strict liability statute covers situations that occur off the dog owner’s property, but it does not negate common law liability. A person injured on the dog owner’s property can still seek recovery under the theories of common law liability. If the dog owner was negligent and his or her negligence caused the injuries, they can be held liable.

There is another exception to the rule involving vicious dogs. Dogs that have been trained to fight, act in a threatening manner without provocation or have attacked another person or pet previously are examples of vicious dogs. Owners of vicious dogs have additional obligations and may be strictly liable under the law on their own property.

Are there any defenses victims need to worry about in dog bite cases? The primary bar to recovery is the statute of limitations. Victims of an animal attack should always consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Dog bite cases can be complicated, even when the injuries are clear. The law office of Sayer Regan & Thayer, LLP, has helped personal injury clients in Rhode Island since 1989. We help victims navigate the complex laws and know how to tackle the tough cases.

Visit our website to learn more about the attorneys at our firm.

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