Pet ownership is a serious responsibility. Though domesticated animals make excellent companions, it is important to keep the safety of others in mind at all times. Dog bites are a major cause of injury in the United States. If a stranger’s or neighbor’s dog attacks, you have access to legal rights under Utah’s dog bite laws.
The Utah civil justice system has strict rules when it comes to timeframes and deadlines on accident victims’ rights to file. One must adhere to certain state statutes and time limits when deciding how long to wait before filing. Missing an important deadline could mean permanently losing your right to compensation for a dog bite injury. Contact our lawyers for information about your specific timeframe, as each case is unique. Your case could qualify as an exception to the general rules.
A “statute of limitations” is the legal term for a lawsuit’s time limit. All states impose statutes of limitations on civil and criminal cases to encourage plaintiffs to bring their claims forward in a timely manner. Otherwise, plaintiffs might wait too long after the fact to bring a claim, resulting in a lawsuit that isn’t fair for the defendant. The justice system holds that it is more unjust than just for a plaintiff to file a claim after too much time has passed. Doing so could mean the loss of important facts or evidence the defendant may have otherwise used to refute the claim.
Dog bite lawsuits will either fall under personal injury or property damage claims depending on the types of damages. If the dog physically or emotionally injured you, you have four years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury claim in Utah. You have three years from the date of the incident to file a property-damage only claim. If you need to file a wrongful death claim for a loved one’s fatal dog attack, you have two years from the date of the death.
The courts may “toll,” or pause, the deadline in cases where the victim discovers his or her injuries after the date of the attack. Although this is rare in dog bite attacks, it is still worthwhile to know. Discuss your individual situation with our dog bite lawyers to find out your exact deadline for filing. The sooner you contact an attorney after your accident, the better your chances are of staying within the state’s strict deadline for filing.
Dog-bite claims, like most personal injury lawsuits, are time sensitive. They deal with critical pieces of evidence that could disappear over the course of time. For example, the dog attack might have occurred because of a hole in the owner’s fence. If you wait too long to file, by the time you’re collecting evidence the owner might have repaired the hole. Unless you act quickly and get photographic evidence of the hole, your case could be more difficult to prove. The integrity of eyewitnesses also deteriorates the longer you wait to bring a claim.
It’s always wise to contact an attorney as soon as you can after any type of personal injury or accident. Swift action optimizes your opportunity for financial recovery. Talking to our lawyers right away means we’ll immediately go to work on your case, preserving and collecting evidence such as photographs of the dog owner’s property as it looked when the attack occurred. We’ll make sure no key evidence gets lost in the shuffle. Contacting a lawyer immediately can also ensure you won’t miss the state’s deadline for filing.
If you’re worried that it might be too late to bring a claim against a dog owner for an attack in Utah, contact us. Our lawyers will listen to your case, tell you if we believe your case has merit for a personal injury claim, and inform you of your rights – including all applicable deadlines for filing. Even if a few years have passed, it’s possible that you qualify as an exception to the rule. It is always worthwhile to meet with us during a free consultation to discuss the statute of limitations in your dog bite case.
There are several laws governing whether a dog owner acted negligently in his or her handling of a pet. For example, a defendant must prove the dog in question had a vicious or mischievous disposition and the owner knew of the potential for violence. In this case, “Beware of Dog” signs may prove the owner’s knowledge of the animal’s nature.
Other factors, such as whether the owner deemed a harness was necessary for the dog and whether the dog had a reputation for demonstrating aggressive behavior may also prove knowledge of the pet’s disposition. The courts will likely consider the dog’s breed as well, as some breeds require more careful training and control on the owner’s part. Proving all this may seem challenging, but establishing these facts and holding owners of dogs who bite accountable is achievable. You do, however, need to know your legal options to proceed successfully in these cases.
City and state laws may come into effect, so consider seeking the help of a Salt Lake City personal injury attorney who are experts in complex personal injury laws. For example, the team at Fielding Law can evaluate every detail of your case and determine whether the dog owner failed in his or her duty to keep you safe and whether negligence was a factor. You can call us anytime more information or book a free consultation online.
Nearly 1,000 people daily go to the emergency room due to a dog bite. These attacks can cause a range of trauma to victims, from superficial lacerations to deeper punctures, broken bone injuries, and even fatal damages. Victims may also suffer ongoing emotional damages following an attack and may need ongoing care for their psychological and physical well-being.
Unlike other states, dog owners in Utah may be held liable for a bite even if the animal has never bitten a person before. Utah follows strict liability standards, and dog bites may also fall under premises liability laws – that is, if a dog owner invites guests onto a property, he or she must exercise the necessary care to keep them safe from a dog attack. All dog owners must keep the public safe from pets under their care. This means that owners must exhibit “ordinary care” in keeping people safe from a dog bite. For example, owners must follow leash laws where applicable and prevent the animal from roaming the neighborhood.
Utah Code Section 18-1-1 further outlines the rules governing dog bites in the state, and the law does allow for the plaintiff to file a personal injury claim due to the owner’s negligence. With knowledge of how to proceed, this can lead to just compensation for any damages suffered. The state also accounts for damages that a dog may cause to other domestic animals as well as service animals and livestock.