Dog bite laws vary from state to state. Today’s post focuses on Rhode Island. R.I. has a number of different laws which could effect a dog bite injury case.

Statute of Limitations

Rhode Island has a law called the statute of limitations, which limits the amount of time an injured person has to file a civil lawsuit seeking compensation after an injury occurs. Typically, the deadline to file a dog bite injury case falls three years after the date of the injury in Rhode Island.

Cases filed after the statute of limitations has expired are typically thrown out by the court, without a hearing. Therefore, it’s important to file your lawsuit before the deadline passes if you want to “have your day in court.”

Rhode Island’s Strict Liability Dog Bite Law

Rhode Island Statutes section 4-13-16 imposes “strict liability” (which means liability without a shoeing of fault) on owners whose dogs cause injury to others. The statute allows an injured person to hold a dog’s owner liable for the injuries if:

  • the dog “assaults, bites, or injures” the person or an animal belonging to that person, and
  • the person or injured animal is not on property belonging to the dog’s owner when the bite occurs.

Not Just Bites

This statute applies to dog bites, but also to other injuries caused by dogs. For instance, a pedestrian on the sidewalk who is knocked to the ground by a pouncing dog can seek compensation from the dog’s owner for any injuries suffered in the fall, even if the dog did not bite the person.

Repeat Offenders

In Rhode island, if a dog has caused injury before and the dog’s owner has been held liable for those injuries in a previous lawsuit, and then later on the dog causes injury again and the owner is again held liable, the owner may be required to pay double the amount of damages. Remember, the strict liability rule in Rhode Island applies only to injuries suffered on property that does not belong to the dog’s owner. For injuries that occur on the owner’s property, the “one bite” rule applies.

Rhode Island’s “One Bite” Law

If a person is injured by a dog while on the property of the dog owner, Rhode Island’s strict liability dog bite statute does not apply. Instead, an injured person must seek liability under Rhode Island’s “one bite” rule. The “one bite” rule states that a dog owner is only liable for a dog bite injury if the owner knew or had reason to know that the dog would act aggressively.

Have You Been Bitten or Injured by a Dog

If you’ve been injured by a dog, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney to discuss your options.

The Law Offices of Dussault & Zatir