Have you been bitten by a dog in Alaska? You should contact a personal injury attorney. You may be able to sue the dog's owner or their insurance for your medical bills and even for pain and suffering. If the dog damaged any of your personal property during the biting incident, you may be able to recover some money in damages for that, too. Your attorney will be able to guide you through your case to the best possible outcome for you.
Before you talk to a personal injury attorney, here are three important things you need to know about the dog bite laws in Alaska.
1. Alaska Is a "One Bite" Rule State
The "one bite" law means the owner of the dog is held legally responsible for any injuries inflicted by the dog, whether via teeth or other means, if they knew the dog had violent tendencies. This is true whether or not the owner took preventive measures to keep the dog under control during the biting incident.
Commercial property owners, such as those who own rental properties or businesses, are legally responsible for injuries the dog inflicts on people who visit the premises if they know the dog has violent tendencies and do not take measures to control the dog or separate it from visitors to the property. If the owner does take measures to control the dog and protect visitors, but the dog gets away and inflicts injury anyway, the owner might not be held legally liable, depending on the exact measures they took to control the dog. The judge and/or jury must make the determination of whether the measures of controlling the dog were reasonable.
2. The Burden of Proof Is On the Defendant
According to Alaska law, the owner of the dog cannot be held liable for damages inflicted by the dog if they did not know, or did not have reasonable knowledge, that the dog was violent or could be violent. The owner of a dog that has always been friendly with everyone, including strangers, likely has no idea that their dog would ever bite someone. It is necessary to prove the owner of the dog did know the dog could be violent in order to recover any financial damages from the bite. If the dog has bitten even one other person, this is usually good enough evidence to prove prior knowledge of the dog's temperament on the part of the owner. However, if the dog has never been anything but friendly, and this is well known by those who know the dog and the owner, then negligence on the part of the dog's owner may be harder to prove.
3. The Dog Must Bite Unprovoked to Be Considered Vicious
Even the friendliest dogs may bite if they are provoked, either by abuse, excessive teasing, threatening their owner in front of the dog, trespassing, or otherwise doing something to make the dog believe you are a danger to them or their family. The law in Alaska understands this, and takes it into consideration when deciding if a dog's owner could have had reasonable knowledge that the dog was vicious. A dog who bites after being provoked is not considered vicious under Alaska law. If someone is found to have provoked the dog, or was bitten while trespassing, the lawyer for the dog's owner will have good evidence that the dog was not vicious and the owner was not at fault for the bite.
Alaska law allows for any dog who is known to be vicious to be killed by anyone who sees it if it is running wild. All known vicious dogs must be kept under the control of their owners at all times in Alaska. If you have been bitten by a dog in Alaska and you were not provoking it or trespassing, you may have a case against their owner. All you have to do is prove the dog was known to be vicious as defined by the state, and that the owner was not properly controlling the dog. Talk to a personal injury attorney today to discuss your options for getting the compensation you deserve. For more information about dog bite laws in other parts of the country, contact a firm like Modesitt Law Offices PC.