Ohio is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites. This means if you or a loved one is bitten by a dog anywhere in the state of Ohio, the dog’s Owner, Harborer, or Keeper will be held liable for any injuries and damages caused by the dog without you having to prove that he or she was negligent.
A dog bite victim must only prove that he or she was bitten by a dog and that dog's bite caused an injury or other type of damage.
The Owner, Harborer or Keeper of a Dog
While the Owner of a dog is straightforward, the Harborer or Keeper of a dog can be more difficult to determine.
A Harborer is a person who controls the place where a dog lives. For example, if a dog and its owner lived with the owner’s parents, then the parents would be considered harborers of the dog. This definition would seem to include landlords. However, most Ohio courts have found that landlords are not responsible for the actions of a tenant’s dog. One exception to this rule would be if the rental property had a common area and the dog bite occurred in the common area. In this circumstance, the landlord may be considered a harborer and thus liable for the dog bite.
A Keeper is a person who maintains control over the dog, even if on a temporary basis. If a friend of the dog’s owner walks the dog on a leash, the friend is temporarily the “keeper” of the dog. If the dog were to break free and bite someone, the friend may be liable as the dog’s “Keeper.”
Exceptions to the Strict Liability Law Governing Dog Bites
There are a few exceptions to strict liability in Ohio. If the victim of a dog bite was criminally trespassing or attempting to trespass, or was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog, the dog’s Owner, Harborer, or Keeper will not be held liable.
Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites in Ohio
In Ohio, a dog bite victim has six years from the date of the bite in which to file a lawsuit against the dog’s Owner, Harborer, or Keeper. This time frame is longer for children. A child who is bitten by a dog has six years beyond his or her eighteenth birthday in which to file a lawsuit.
If you or someone you know has fallen victim to a dog bite or dog attack anywhere in Ohio, please contact us at 1-888-534-4850 for a FREE consultation or send us a Website Message about your case. We can help!