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Who is liable when dogs attack?

One thing victims of dog bites and attacks need to know is that New Hampshire has some of the most favorable laws in the country when it comes to holding dog owners accountable for dog-related injuries. For instance, unlike several other states, a dog-bite victim does not need to prove the dog has a propensity for violence before the dog's owner will be liable.

In fact, the relevant statute clearly states that any person injured or damaged by a dog "shall be entitled to recover damages from the person who owns, keeps, or possesses the dog". Simply put, if a dog injures you, the owner is responsible - otherwise known as strict liability. The only thing a victim needs to show is that he or she was not trespassing or committing another tort at the time of the dog attack.

Most importantly, New Hampshire courts have held that a dog owner is liable regardless of whether the dog actually bites or has contact with the victim. For example, in one particular case - Bohan v. Ritzo - the court determined that a bike rider could seek damages from dog's owner following a bike accident in which the dog frightened the rider, causing him to fall off his bike. When reaching its decision, the court noted that the plain language of the statute does not require any direct contact between the dog and the victim, and if the legislature intended otherwise, they could have easily drafted the statute to say so.

What should I do?

If you or your child has been attacked or otherwise injured by a dog, you may be entitled to compensation. In many cases, you can seek damages from the dog owner's homeowners insurance provider. To learn more, it is best to contact an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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