Dog Bite Laws and Owner Liability Laws in Utah

Several laws apply to dog bites filed within the Utah civil court system. When bitten by a dog, few people know that it is within their legal rights to claim damages for the injuries caused; Utah has a strict liability statute for dog bites affecting such cases. However, there are time limits that may affect your case. We’ve discussed the laws governing dog bite injuries in Utah, along with possible defenses for owners with a claim brought against them.

Time Limits on Claiming a Dog Bite Case in Utah

Like all states, Utah has a statute of limitations that sets the periodic limit on filing lawsuits in courts. When injured by a dog in Utah, you have four years to present your case to a court. The four-year time limit countdown begins to run from the day the injury took place. It is essential to seek legal insight on how the rule will apply to your specific case. The crucial thing to have in mind is that if you fail to file your claim on time, you won’t be legally eligible to receive any compensation. 

Utah’s Dog Bite Laws

Utah has a specific law addressing dog liability; the law notably establishes that dog owners, or any person keeping a dog, are liable and responsible for the damages suffered in injuries that the dog caused. The law remains, irrespective of whether the owner knew or had reason to speculate their dog could cause injuries. The lack of a need for the owner to have known the damage makes the statute on dog liability a “strict liability” law.

The dog bite laws in Utah apply to specific dog bite injuries and any form of damages that arise from their dog’s actions. For example, if you fall and injure yourself while running from a feisty dog chasing you, you can sue and claim damages from the dog owner. Alternatively, you may also file a negligence claim; the claim would be based on the dog owner failing to take reasonable care of their dog, leading to your injury.

Defenses to Dog Injury Claims in Utah

The dog bite law in Utah is relatively comprehensive, making defenses for sued dog owners quite scanty. However, the law has allowed an exception for liability for any trained law enforcement dogs provided the dogs were being used carefully and reasonably in an arrest, apprehension, or search of a suspected offender, or while controlling and maintaining public order. However, any unreasonable use of a police dog is illegal.

However, a dog owner in Utah may raise more defenses when the claim against them is based on negligence. For instance, they may argue comparative negligence, claiming that the injured party was either partially or wholly liable for the injury in their defense. They may claim that the injured party provoked the dog during the incident.

Utah has a “modified negligence” law. If the injured party is found to be partially at fault by less than 50% in Utah, then the court is required to reduce their total damages by the percentage equal to their responsibility. When the injured party is found to be over 50% liable, they’re not entitled to receiving any damages at all.

When the injured party was trespassing at the owners’ property, the dog owner could argue their limits via the homeowner’s liabilities to trespasser injuries.                            

Seek Compensation for Your Dog Bites 

If you are bitten by a dog in Utah, the law has implemented laws to protect you and compensate you for what you suffered. As much as the time limit is four years, it will serve your best interest to put a claim as soon as you can after the incident. 

There is also no harm in attempting to settle the matter with the dog owner first. However, seek professional legal assistance to evaluate your losses before accepting a settlement offer.

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