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So how liable are dog owners for the damage/wrecks/bites their dogs cause?

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So how liable are dog owners for the damage/wrecks/bites their dogs cause?

Old 10-08-12, 07:20 PM
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So how liable are dog owners for the damage/wrecks/bites their dogs cause?

I know there have been tons of topics about those that have wrecked, what to do when chased, defense mechanisms, etc...

But I got to wondering what the legal liability is for the owners of said pets if they do harm or wreck a biker. I live in an area absolutely saturated with unleashed dogs. Just yesterday, I had to deal with 6 different dogs in less than 1 mile close to my home. I'm really getting sick of it. What am I supposed to do? Go from house to house calling the cops each time a dog runs off a porch and damn near kills me? I do my best to avoid these areas; however, it truly is impossible to ride anywhere around my house without coming into contact with multiple dogs. For reference, I live right on the border between a small city - Knoxville - and a rural setting. So, you have a lot of houses but very few neighborhoods that would act as a natural barrier to animals running wild due to kids/traffic. (I.E. Not city but not farmland either.)

Back to my question. I'm assuming that, as long as I'm not on someone's actual private property, that the owners of any dog that causes me to wreck or bites me would be legally at fault. Correct?
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Old 10-08-12, 07:29 PM
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I've had one dog-related crash which resulted in a bent frame (butted steel tubes bend rather easily). The dog owner's home insurance paid for a replacement bike without any trouble. Also had some road rash but didn't put in any claim for that (no monetary costs, just some pain). Best to check with someone local to confirm the legal situation in your area but I'd expect the dog owners to be liable - the main problem might be in proving whose dog was involved and that the dog was responsible for the crash.
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Old 10-08-12, 07:32 PM
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Maybe, maybe not. If the area (county) doesn't have a leash law, the owners aren't really breaking the law. Dogs in the street are like children playing. The owners/parents are responsible but getting something more than medical expenses and repair to your bike should be it. In addition you say there are lots of dogs. A judge might ask why are you riding there knowing the are lots of dogs running loose?
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Old 10-08-12, 07:42 PM
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If an owner doesn't take responsibility for the dog, then in my mind the dog is merely a stray animal. A stray that attacked or acted aggressively enough to cause a mishap.

If no one is responsible for that, then the only solution for a wild and dangerous stray is a bullet. Maybe a tazer if you're in a residential area. A tazer with a VERY high power setting.

Two weeks ago a dog chased me that had bitten a woman on a previous ride. Normally I step on it and outrun this mutt (not easy), but this time I went just fast enough to keep the dog right on my heels. Kept encouraging him along for nearly six miles. Hope his owners had fun with that.
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Old 10-08-12, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Banzai

If no one is responsible for that, then the only solution for a wild and dangerous stray is a bullet. Maybe a tazer if you're in a residential area. A tazer with a VERY high .
This confirms my suspicions about you.
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Old 10-08-12, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven
This confirms my suspicions about you.
Whatever. I know two people who had some nasty crashes after a dog took them down with a jaw clamped on the ankle.

I have no patience for people who cannot control or adequately train their pets anymore.

What would you do if a coyote attacked? Or take your pick of animal. A dog is no different. A lot of dog owners idealize and even anthropomorphize their pets, but a dog is just an animal. If you forget that, you're asking for trouble.
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Old 10-08-12, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Banzai
Whatever. I know two people who had some nasty crashes after a dog took them down with a jaw clamped on the ankle.

I have no patience for people who cannot control or adequately train their pets anymore.

What would you do if a coyote attacked? Or take your pick of animal. A dog is no different. A lot of dog owners idealize and even anthropomorphize their pets, but a dog is just an animal. If you forget that, you're asking for trouble.
I'll add...it really changes your perspective if your child has been bitten by a dog.
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Old 10-08-12, 08:20 PM
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If an owner has awareness of a dog's dangerous propensities, he or she is liable for any damage that dog causes.

As far as homeowners insurance goes, YMMV. Some won't cover certain "high risk" breeds, and those dog owners may be self-insuring their dogs.

Also, landlord's liability for a tenant's dog may vary from state to state. If the landlord isn't responsible, then good luck getting money out of the tenant. Liability is fine, but where there are no assets that can be attached, any judgment is just an expensive piece of toilet paper.
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Old 10-09-12, 12:24 AM
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https://sprinterdellacasa.blogspot.co...-dogs-out.html

Their homeowners is paying for my medical bills. Well at least their insurance company is following up with us. I have a feeling that the dog owners are paying out of pocket to avoid insurance premium increases.

All else failing, wear a bike or helmet cam. I had one on. It's relatively cheap and it offers a permanent and impartial view to what happened. When I first stopped one of the owners half-heartedly suggested that maybe I was bleeding because I fell over. That's kind of laughable because I was bleeding from a puncture wound but imagine if I had road rash? It'd be hard to tell if I fell, then the dogs bit me, or if I feel because the dogs bit me.

When my wife showed up and casually commented that I record everything on every ride using a helmet cam all talk of me "falling over" went out the window.

(FYI I wear a cam whenever I race or train for somewhat morbid reasons, but the main motivation in getting one was when a guy intentionally took out a group of racers, including me - first broken bone in my life and I'd been racing 28 years at that point, and got away with it because there was no photographic or video evidence. Two of his teammates perjured themselves to help him and he escaped with essentially no penalty. I could have bought everyone in the race an HD helmet cam for the money I spent on medical deductibles and non-covered stuff. Instead I bought just one for me. In the two years since - he's a very active racer - I've caught him a number of times about to make a sketchy move, look back, see me and my cam, and not make the move. I'd like to think I'm doing my part to promote safe and sane racing. Incredibly he'd done the same thing just a week and change before, taking out teammates and friends of mine; if the officials had suspended him like they should have then the crash the following week wouldn't have happened. I ran into a guy that happened to be the cop on duty that day and he said the carnage was so great that his colleagues were coming over to check things out.)
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Old 10-09-12, 02:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Banzai
Whatever. I know two people who had some nasty crashes after a dog took them down with a jaw clamped on the ankle.

I have no patience for people who cannot control or adequately train their pets anymore.

What would you do if a coyote attacked? Or take your pick of animal. A dog is no different. A lot of dog owners idealize and even anthropomorphize their pets, but a dog is just an animal. If you forget that, you're asking for trouble.
Feel the same way about kids who's parents don't control or adequately train them? Just asking... to be on the safe side.
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Old 10-09-12, 04:00 AM
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Interesting responses. I like the helmet cam idea. And, I understand that it might be difficult to prove ownership of a dog - especially after the fact (wreck).

I wouldn't want to carry a gun because the added weight would hurt me going up hills. (Joking.) I've thought about pepper spray or something more powerful than, say, my water bottle; however, in this area I'm just as likely to be chased down by Bubba as I am to get away from the danger of a dog. Plus, there aren't exactly a lot of bikers in my immediate area. I could be setting myself up for a future near death experience. IE. "There's that guy that peppered the dog. Run him off the road. Nobody is around to see it."

Thus, the original post. There's not a lot I can do to remedy the situation causing me to accept the fact and wonder what I'd be able to do post-incident.
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Old 10-09-12, 04:33 AM
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Sorry you have to put up with feral dogs, and possibly feral owners. Knowing the leash law helps. Having evidence should you get bitten helps in a court case. Getting someone to pay up is another story and possibly not worth the hassle of court ; if the bite is severe enough you may need legal representation. As would the defendant.

If it were me I would avoid the area at all costs as nothing good can come out of it. Going fast wouldn't help as dogs are pretty quick and like those videos of antelope hitting MTB riders - they could always blindside you. In the end - no win scenario.
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Old 10-09-12, 05:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar
Feel the same way about kids who's parents don't control or adequately train them? Just asking... to be on the safe side.
Hah! Golden reply
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Old 10-09-12, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Slaninar
Feel the same way about kids who's parents don't control or adequately train them? Just asking... to be on the safe side.
As comical as it is to imagine a 2 yr old toddler chasing down, tackling, and biting a cyclist. It's interesting that in your mind a dog and human child are interchangeable in an idea or topic. It's like some sort of severe Agnosia or something (not a medical professional). You should see a professional, I'm both worried, and curious.
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Old 10-09-12, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Menel
As comical as it is to imagine a 2 yr old toddler chasing down, tackling, and biting a cyclist. It's interesting that in your mind a dog and human child are interchangeable in an idea or topic. It's like some sort of severe Agnosia or something (not a medical professional). You should see a professional, I'm both worried, and curious.
Where I'm from, when a child does something stupid, like spray paint graffiti, the parents of the child are liable for the damage caused.

If a child breaks items in a china shop, the parent is also financially responsible.


Different laws seem to have different cut-off ages for parent responsibility for actions of their children, the highest I know is 26-years-old for financial obligation for college tuition. It takes an act of God for the parents of a 18yo-25yo to not be obligated to contribute to college tuition. Even if the "child" has been financially independent since 18yo.


Also...

Bear spray or pepper spray work both against aggressive dogs and juvenile delinquents. You can spray and keep riding.
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Old 10-09-12, 06:12 AM
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Last time I checked a child was a human being and a dog an animal...How bout we stick to comparing apples to apples, kay

Furthermore, I guess that means you can't defend yourself if someone has a mountain lion as a pet and it comes at you? I know that's a stupid analogy, but an animal is an animal...Simple as that...
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Old 10-09-12, 06:51 AM
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In TN the owner can be charged with a felony if the dog is running loose and causes injury and/or damage. You should contact animal control for your county and have them cruise the area and leave warnings for the owners. You have an active bike club in Knoxville, they can probably give you specific local info.
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Old 10-09-12, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Menel
As comical as it is to imagine a 2 yr old toddler chasing down, tackling, and biting a cyclist. It's interesting that in your mind a dog and human child are interchangeable in an idea or topic. It's like some sort of severe Agnosia or something (not a medical professional). You should see a professional, I'm both worried, and curious.
Biting is only part of the problem. Dogs want to play or just can step out in front of you just like children.

Most of these posts fail to note the OPs issue - it's not one dog or even an aggressive dog. He said he ran into six dogs in a mile.
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Old 10-09-12, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by knoxtnhorn
I know there have been tons of topics about those that have wrecked, what to do when chased, defense mechanisms, etc...

But I got to wondering what the legal liability is for the owners of said pets if they do harm or wreck a biker. I live in an area absolutely saturated with unleashed dogs. Just yesterday, I had to deal with 6 different dogs in less than 1 mile close to my home. I'm really getting sick of it. What am I supposed to do? Go from house to house calling the cops each time a dog runs off a porch and damn near kills me? I do my best to avoid these areas; however, it truly is impossible to ride anywhere around my house without coming into contact with multiple dogs. For reference, I live right on the border between a small city - Knoxville - and a rural setting. So, you have a lot of houses but very few neighborhoods that would act as a natural barrier to animals running wild due to kids/traffic. (I.E. Not city but not farmland either.)

Back to my question. I'm assuming that, as long as I'm not on someone's actual private property, that the owners of any dog that causes me to wreck or bites me would be legally at fault. Correct?
**** the law. When it comes to settling things that way, it's late. Make sure you stay OK. Dogs are mostly human-friendly. That's what differs them from wolves, koyotes and the like. Some bad owners can make dogs viscious, but such are not likely to run free in the street.

How exactly do you "deal" with dogs? Did they bite you and you had to fight back, or did they just run after you and bark? There are LOTS of stray dogs where I live. They are about teritory and they are happy to chase me around their "perimeter". I usually slow down, stop pedaling, give them a look in the eyes when they are near and shout "no, go home...", usualy does the trick. Never been bitten.

One more thing - dogs sense fear. If you're scared, you are in trouble. They will chase you for the fun of it and to show off if they see you're scared.

Giving them some bacon also does the trick - you'll make lots of friends in no time!
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Old 10-09-12, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven
Maybe, maybe not. If the area (county) doesn't have a leash law, the owners aren't really breaking the law. Dogs in the street are like children playing. The owners/parents are responsible but getting something more than medical expenses and repair to your bike should be it. In addition you say there are lots of dogs. A judge might ask why are you riding there knowing the are lots of dogs running loose?


In the US, dog owners are responsible for any damage their dogs cause regardless of "leash laws".

The issue might be proving ownership or proving that any particular dog was the cause.

I suppose that, with this: "but getting something more than medical expenses and repair to your bike should be it", you are talking about "pain and suffering". If so, then that's a very high target and people shouldn't expect it (as you said).

Last edited by njkayaker; 10-09-12 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 10-09-12, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by mprelaw
If an owner has awareness of a dog's dangerous propensities, he or she is liable for any damage that dog causes.
Prior knowledge isn't a requirement. And one could argue that "chasing things" (and the possible consequences thereof) is a default prior knowledge (it's basic dog-ownership knowledge). (Though, if there is documented history of prior incidents, it would make your case against the owner stronger.)

Originally Posted by mprelaw
As far as homeowners insurance goes, YMMV. Some won't cover certain "high risk" breeds, and those dog owners may be self-insuring their dogs.
Just to be clear, the dog owner is still responsible for damages regardless of whether the owner has insurance coverage or not (I'm restating what you are saying)
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Old 10-09-12, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by carpediemracing
(FYI I wear a cam whenever I race or train for somewhat morbid reasons, but the main motivation in getting one was when a guy intentionally took out a group of racers, including me - first broken bone in my life and I'd been racing 28 years at that point, and got away with it because there was no photographic or video evidence. Two of his teammates perjured themselves to help him and he escaped with essentially no penalty. I could have bought everyone in the race an HD helmet cam for the money I spent on medical deductibles and non-covered stuff. Instead I bought just one for me. In the two years since - he's a very active racer - I've caught him a number of times about to make a sketchy move, look back, see me and my cam, and not make the move. I'd like to think I'm doing my part to promote safe and sane racing. Incredibly he'd done the same thing just a week and change before, taking out teammates and friends of mine; if the officials had suspended him like they should have then the crash the following week wouldn't have happened. I ran into a guy that happened to be the cop on duty that day and he said the carnage was so great that his colleagues were coming over to check things out.)
A bit off-topic. A racer friend of mine mentioned an unsafe racer. I encouraged him to report the guy to the racing officials (apparently, they can ban unsafe riders). If you are racing and see someone acting carelessly, be sure to report it (don't assume other people will). The more people who report them, the more likely they will be banned.
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Old 10-09-12, 09:10 AM
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Wis. Stat. Ann., sec. 174.02(1)(a)
(a) Without notice. Subject to s. 895.045 and except as provided in s. 895.57 (4), the owner of a dog is liable for the full amount of damages caused by the dog injuring or causing injury to a person, domestic animal or property.

I had a friend who was taken out by a dog and sent a copy of the bills for his ER visit and bike rep. as well as a copy of the state statute. He got a check from the owner to cover all of his bills.
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Old 10-09-12, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by BigJeff
Where I'm from, when a child does something stupid, like spray paint graffiti, the parents of the child are liable for the damage caused.

If a child breaks items in a china shop, the parent is also financially responsible.
The act doesn't have to be "stupid". Parents are responsible for any damage they and their children (and their pets) cause.
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Old 10-09-12, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by BigJeff


Different laws seem to have different cut-off ages for parent responsibility for actions of their children, the highest I know is 26-years-old for financial obligation for college tuition. It takes an act of God for the parents of a 18yo-25yo to not be obligated to contribute to college tuition. Even if the "child" has been financially independent since 18yo.

Not so much an act of god. The student getting married breaks the parent financial obligation, at least in the US.
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