Need a Lawyer for a Dog Bite Injury in Ohio?

In 2014, according to the CDC, The insurance industry paid more than $530 million in dog bite related claims. At Sawan & Sawan, our lawyers have extensive experience helping victims of dog bites recover after an injury causing dog bite. Many people are hesitant to pursue a claim after a dog bite – out of concern that the owner of the dog will solely bear the financial fallout of paying compensation. However, as the numbers show, this is rarely the case – as homeowner’s insurance frequently pays these type of claims. 

Ohio dog bite law exists, in part, to simplify the often complex principles of a personal injury case. In the average personal injury case, an injured party has the obligation to prove that there was a: duty, breach, that caused, damage. Duty and breach can be established in a variety of ways, but showing that a duty exists can be a highly technical and fact specific undertaking. As a result, Ohio has instituted a strict liability statute. What this means is that in order to recover, an injured party has a much easier road as duty and breach is already established by statute. In simple terms, the fact that a dog injured someone is enough to hold that owner strictly liable. This is subject to a few narrow defenses.

Ohio Revised Code 955.28 states that: 

The owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog, unless the injury, death, or loss was caused to the person or property of an individual who, at the time, was committing or attempting to commit criminal trespass or another criminal offense other than a minor misdemeanor on the property of the owner, keeper, or harborer, or was committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense other than a minor misdemeanor against any person, or was teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog on the owner’s, keeper’s, or harborer’s property. Additionally, the owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog if the injury, death, or loss was caused to the person or property of an individual who, at the time of the injury, death, or loss, was on the property of the owner, keeper, or harborer solely for the purpose of engaging in door-to-door sales or other solicitations regardless of whether the individual was in compliance with any requirement to obtain a permit or license to engage in door-to-door sales or other solicitations established by the political subdivision in which the property of the owner, keeper, or harborer is located, provided that the person was not committing a criminal offense other than a minor misdemeanor or was not teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog.


What Should I Do After a Dog Bite Injury?

While a dog bite can often seem like a minor injury, many bites cause serious injury – especially to children. As Ohio dog bite lawyers, we often see severe dog bite injuries that result in infection or the need for surgery. Many times we see disfiguring scars and heaps of medical bills after a serious dog bite injury. If you or a loved one have been bitten by a dog, it’s wise to talk to a dog bite lawyer today.

The family of Ohio Dog Bite lawyers at Sawan & Sawan have broad experience representing victims of dog bite injuries in Ohio. We can help you examine your legal options and suggest best practices for dealing with dog bite injuries. Call Sawan & Sawan today at 419-900-0955 or use our contact form here

  • Photograph the Injuries. If you are able to, take pictures of the dog bit as soon as practicable after the injury – preferably before you get it treated. This can be a critical piece of element to demonstrate the severity of the injury should you have to go to Court to prove your case.
  • Get Medical Care. Any time a dog bite punctures the skin, there is a heightened possibility of infection. It’s best to go to the hospital and get the wound checked thoroughly by a qualified medical professional. This will often involve the use of a disinfectant, and occasionally treatment for rabies. Your medical professional may also consider taking x-rays – and surgery in the case of a severe dog bite injury.
  • Gather Information from the Dog’s Owner. If possible, it’s vital that you contact the owner of the dog in order to gather personal information – including vaccination history. At a minimum, you should obtain the dog’s age, veterinarian, history of medical care and any information about the dog’s history of behavioral issues.
  • Report the Dog Bite. While most County Health Departments require Rabies Vaccinations, unfortunately many dog owners fail to meet this obligation. To be safe, it’s also best to report the dog bite – and seek information from the local health authority about any records they may have about the animal’s behavioral and vaccination history.
  • Consult with a Dog Bite Lawyer. After you’ve completed the above steps, you may still have a lot of questions. How do I pay back the medical bills? What about the medical treatment and pain? Does insurance cover this? It’s understandable not to know the answers to all these questions. Talking to an experienced dog bite injury lawyer can help to answer many of these questions – and give you the peace of mind to focus on recovery.

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Most Dangerous Breeds of Dogs

First off, let’s be clear that any animal can be unpredictable, and the numbers below don’t mean that all dogs of that breed are dangerous. There are plenty of friendly and well-adjusted dogs of each of these breeds. In that same vein, theoretically any dog or other animal carries some risk of injury to humans. Dogs not known to commonly bite humans may still do so. To put it in perspective, in 2017, there were about 90 million dogs in America, and only 4.7 million dog bites. However, statistics do show that certain breeds seem to be more prone to causing serious injury or death. Much of this has to do with physical ability, as well as propensity of the breed. Every year, the Center for Disease Control, publishes a list of statistics relating to dog bites in the United States. According to this publication, these are the breeds that bite the most:

Physical strength of a dog bite also factors into the severity of injuries that are caused in an attack. Below are the top 12 dogs with the strongest bites in terms of PSI (pounds per square inch).
  • Kangal: 743 PSI
  • English Mastiff: 556 PSI
  • Wolfdog: 406 PSI
  • Rottweiler: 328 PSI
  • African Wild Dog: 317 PSI
  • American Bull Dog: 305 PSI
  • Doberman: 245 PSI
  • German Shepherd: 238 PSI
  • American Pitbull: 235 PSI
  • Dutch Shepherd: 224 PSI
  • Chow Chow: 220 PSI
  • Malinois: 195 PSI
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Landlords and Dog Bite Liability

In Ohio, as a general proposition a landlord is not liable for a tenant’s dog. In fact, a tenant is usually strictly liable for injuries caused by their dog. If the dog owner owns the property where the bite occurred the homeowner’s insurance will often pat to cover medical bills and other damages. If the dog’s owner, however, is a tenant, they often do not have renter’s insurance that will cover the injuries. As a result, many victims of a dog bite attempt to hold the landlord liable for the tenant’s dog. 

There may be exceptions to a landlord liability for the tenant’s dog. These exceptions are fact specific and would need to be carefully explored. Landlord liability could attach if they: own the dog, keep the dog, or harbor the dog. Under Ohio law, a “harborer” is a person who controls the place where the dog lives.There may be questions about whether the landlord harbored the dog. Did the dog bite take place in a common area? Was the landlord keeping the dog at the time of the bite? Did the landlord have previous knowledge  about the vicious dog behavior but took no action? These are just some of the inquires that must be pursued in order to  hold the landlord liable. 
Ohio law has redefined the definition of “harboring” a dog, by protecting landlords when dog bites occur inside private residences. On the other hand the law keeps open the possibility of holding them liable when the attack occurs in hallways, yards, parking areas, and other common areas. The landlord could also be liable if they were  in direct control  of the dog at the time of the incident. This a common situation when the landlord owns the home and has a tenant renting a room who has a dog. Liability can also attach if the landlord through complaints, prior incidents,or knowledge that the dog has a history of vicious behavior  allows the dog to remain on the property. A detailed accounting of incidents concerning the dog is essential to hold the landlord liable. Without this information, you run the risk of having the landlord dismissed from you case.
Once you are injured by a dog bite, you must retain an attorney to allow them to launch an investigation collecting all evidence. This will assist them in determining liability of both the tenant and landlord. This investigation should include the following:
  • Obtaining the police report
  • Interview witnesses
  • Taking photographs of the scene
  • Reviewing your injuries
  • Investigating prior complaints
  • Establishing all potential liable parties
  • Obtaining medical records and bills confirming your injuries
  • Obtain documents for all claimed injuries
The  following is a list of damages you can recover from the responsible party:
  • Medical treatment and related costs
  • Ongoing care costs
  • Expenses related to future care, including plastic surgery
  • Lost wages and diminished earning capacity
  • Repair or replacement of damaged property
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental Anguish

Dog Bites and Children

Unfortunately, when it comes to dog bites, the statistics show that children are disproportionately affected by injuries. This is due to a number of factors, including size and lack of inhibition around dogs. However, there are some steps you can take to keep your children safe from dog bite injuries. For families with small children, we recommend:

  • Teaching your children to ask permission from the owner before petting or approaching an unfamiliar dog
  • Teaching children to be aware of the dog’s body language and outward signs that it is uncomfortable or threatened
  • Teaching your children to be calm and patient when approaching a dog – rather than being excited and running
  • Explaining to your children that If an unfamiliar dog approaches you, remain motionless. Do not run or scream. Avoid direct eye contact.

If you or a loved one sustained injuries to a dog bite, you have rights under Ohio law. Our attorneys at Sawan & Sawan will assist you in pursuing the responsible party, which could be the dog owner’s insurance company.

Please contact our firm by calling 419-900-0955 today. Our family of personal injury Attorneys is here to answer your questions, review your situation and explain to you any legal issues and remedies

About the Authors: Sawan & Sawan is a Toledo, Ohio based Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Truck Accident, Car Accident and Insurance Law Firm with lawyers licensed to practice in Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Georgia.

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Dennis E. Sawan

Managing Partner

Licensed in Ohio and Florida

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Dennis P. Sawan

Senior Partner

Licensed in Ohio and Georgia

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Christopher A. Sawan


Licensed in Ohio and Michigan

Contact an Attorney today to discuss your case.

At Sawan & Sawan, we offer free initial consultations. We represent clients in Ohio, Georgia, Michigan and Florida. From our family to yours.

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Dennis was very prompt in emails, phone calls and helped resolve my case as quickly as possible. I would re-hire him and recommend him to others with no reservations.
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Highly recommend! Works hard and actually does in depth research and analysis on your case. He is great with communicating with you and the courts. I couldn’t be more pleased or impressed with him!! Thanks Dennis!
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I would recommend Attorney Dennis Sawan to anyone seeking legal representation. Dennis was able to walk me through a complicated, daunting process and ensured that I promptly got a great outcome. He was knowledgeable, professional, and thoughtful. Thank you for all of your help!
The range of knowledge and years of experience within this firm definitely has solidified me as a customer for life! You will not find a better attorney or firm in the city of Toledo, or beyond!
Sawan & Sawan Law Firm diligently and professionally provided me with excellent legal services. Mr. Sawan thoroughly explained all of my options and presented a well designed course for action
My review cannot express the amount of satisfaction I have for this team that represented me. Their legal knowledge and expertise is outstanding by far and if you come across this team I highly recommend them for your number 1 choice.


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