A common question among clients is whether there is any liability when
a trespasser is bitten by their dog. First, each state has its own laws
regarding liability for dog bites. There are basically two theories of
liability: the "one bite rule" and "strict liability."
Each state has adopted one of these two rules. Alabama recognizes the
strict liability theory when it comes to dog bite injuries. So, how does
that rule apply to trespassers?
The Theory of Strict Liability
The most common theory is strict liability, when dealing with
dog bite injuries. The concept of "strict liability" means that the dog's
owner is always liable for any dog bite injuries, regardless of whether
or not the owner could have done anything to prevent the injury. All that
is required to establish liability is a showing that the victim was legally
on the premises when the injury occurred, and the victim did not provoke
the dog. There is typically no liability for trespassers.
The "One Bite" Rule for Dog Bite Liability
An older rule, that is not as common today as it used to be, is the so-called
"one bite" rule. Under that theory, liability is based on whether
or not the dog owner knew or had reason to know that the dog might bite
someone. This rule is known as the "one bite" rule because it
essentially means that a dog is allowed one bite before the owner could
be held liable. After the first bite, the owner was obviously on notice
of the dog's propensity to bite. Regardless, in nearly every situation,
there is no liability for an injury to a trespasser – someone who
does not have permission to be on the premises.
If you have questions regarding a personal injury matter,
contact us online or by calling the Law Office of Cody R. Wix, LLC, at (205) 381-4787.