Ohio is referred to as a “strict liability” state when it comes to dog bites.
What that generally means is that the dog’s owner or keeper (in cases where the dog was temporarily in someone else’s care, say for boarding or walking) is responsible for any bite the animal inflicts — even if there was no reason to suspect the animal was a biter.
However, like most things in the legal arena, there are always exceptions to the rule — and Ohio law does make allowances for certain events that could lead to a dog bite. If your situation falls under one of those exceptions, you’re going to have a hard time recovering for your injuries.
These are the most important things to keep in mind:
1. You can’t be trespassing.
Trespassers aren’t protected under Ohio’s dog bite law. However, the definition of a trespasser can be complicated. Children under a certain age — those too young to understand the significance of a fence and a posted sign, for example — are generally not considered trespassers. Neither are door-to-door solicitors.
On the other hand, if you’re old enough to understand the reasons for a fence and you ignore any signs warning you away, you may not be able to recover damages if the dog on the property bites you.
2. You can’t provoke or tease the dog.
Provoking or teasing an animal that can injure you is never a good idea. If you kick a dog and it bites you, for example, the law doesn’t spare you much sympathy — the animal was simply defending itself.
However, you may accidentally provoke a dog simply by dangling your arms over the property’s fence while trying to pet the animal. The dog may interpret your actions as an invasion of its territory or a threat and do what it is expected to do: bite.
3. You can’t be in the process of a crime.
If you’re bitten by a dog while trying to rob a place or perform some other criminal act, Ohio law sides with the dog.
Naturally, there’s often some debate between the parties involved in a dog bite lawsuit. The two sides often disagree about whether someone was actually trespassing or teasing a dog. Discuss the situation with an attorney who handles animal bite cases to get an informed opinion about the viability of your case.
Source: Dog Bite Law, “Ohio Dog Bite Law,” accessed June 07, 2017