Although many states have a one-bite rule when it comes to dog attacks, Rhode Island follows a strict liability statute in certain dog bite cases. Under that law, a dog owner has legal liability for bite injuries even if the dog has never been aggressive before.
Learn more about whether you can seek financial damages for injuries resulting from a dog bite.
Injuries on public property
Rhode Island law explicitly calls for strict owner liability for all dog attack injuries outside the owner’s private property. You can seek legal damages for bites, scratches, wounds and injuries that occur in a fall caused by a dog attack. If another person, such as a dog walker, is the “keeper” of the dog at the time of the attack, the court may hold that person responsible for resulting injuries.
Strict liability means that you do not have to prove the owner was negligent for a successful case. If the dog that attacked you has attacked before, the judge can double your monetary damages.
Injuries on private property
If a dog attacked you on the dog owner’s property, the one-bite rule applies. Under this statute, the owner only has legal liability if the dog has a history of attacks. The court may not find the owner liable for a dog bite injury if you entered the dog’s enclosure. However, if the dog never attacked before, the court can still find the owner responsible if he or she failed to show appropriate care in controlling the animal.
You must file a personal injury lawsuit for a dog attack within three years of the incident. Otherwise, Rhode Island courts will dismiss your case as outside the statute of limitations.
Keep in mind that the dog owner’s liability extends beyond attacks on humans. You can sue a dog owner for attacks that injured or killed your dog, cat, pig, hog, fowl, horse, cow, sheep or any other domestic animal.