In a 2011 survey by Harris Interactive, 92% of dog owners responded that they considered their dog to be a member of their family. Although many of us are extremely close with our dogs, dogs can and do bite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year. Unfortunately, children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites.
Wisconsin Law on Dog Bites
In Wisconsin, a dog owner is liable for the full amount of damages caused by a dog that injures a person. Wis. Stat. § 174.02 (2013-14). If the owner knew that the dog previously injured a person, a victim may recover double damages. Id. § 174.02(1)(b). Under Wisconsin law, “owner” is a broad term, and it is defined as “any person who owns, harbors or keeps a dog.” Id. § 174.001(5). Therefore, even individuals who are not the legal owner of a dog may be liable for damages.
Tips on Avoiding Dog Bites
•- Pay attention to a dog’s body language.
•- Teach young children to ask permission from the dog’s owner before trying to pet it.
•- Teach children how to appropriately pet a dog (no running towards the dog, pulling on tail/ears, etc.)
•- Do not tease dogs.
•- Avoid petting dogs when they are eating or sleeping.
If you or a loved one have been injured by a dog bite, the dog owner may be financially liable for your injuries. Contact us at 262-422-6607 to set up a consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.