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Determining liability in a dog bite case

If an Iowa resident is bitten by an animal, the owner of that animal may be liable for any damages that a victim incurs. For instance, the animal's owner may have to pay a victim's medical bills or reimburse a victim for property damage. Punitive damages may also be a part of any settlement or jury award. As a general rule, an owner must take steps to keep a dangerous animal away from people.

This may include putting up warning signs on the property where the animal may be located. Erecting a fence may also reduce an animal owner's liability. If a minor owns an animal, that minor's parents may be held liable for anything it does even if the child technically owns it.

Those who own animals may have defenses against claims made after an attack. For instance, if a victim hopped over a fence to greet a dog, the victim may be partially or wholly liable for having assumed the risk of injury. It is important to note that the owner has the burden of proof when making a claim of comparative negligence against a bite victim.

An animal bite may result in serious injuries that take days or weeks to fully recover from. If a bite becomes infected, it may take numerous trips to the doctor or hospital to successfully treat the infection. As Iowa is a strict liability state when it comes to a dog bite, the owner could be held responsible for the resulting damages, even if there was no prior knowledge of the animal's vicious propensities.

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Hixson & Brown, P.C.
160 South 68th Street
Suite 1108
West Des Moines, IA 50266

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Phone: 515-650-4531
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