Written by Brandon Nicholas Kelly
Brandon will be attending Ohio State to study Finance.
Should someone have to pay for damage that was caused by another party? I believe most would agree that the clear the answer is of course not. Despite this, a law exists in most states in the United States that makes the victims of horrific dog bites responsible for the subsequent costs. Even though the law only pertains to cases when it is the first time a dog bites another person, it still does not make much sense. A law that makes much more sense exists in the state of Michigan. It holds dog bite owners strictly liable for the costs that arise from their dog biting someone.
One of the many reasons the Michigan law makes more sense is that it is parallel to the components of other injury laws that pertain to injury caused by property. If someone was to break their foot, as a result of a malfunctioning staircase, the owner of the staircase could not eradicate their responsibility for the costs by saying, “I was not aware someone could get hurt walking down my stairs”. Then why would it make sense for a dog owner to be able to use that excuse. Opponents of the Michigan law might respond by saying, “Well it was not the dog owner’s intention for their dog to bite another person”. This is also the case for almost all property injury incidences, yet for all other occasions a person is responsible for the damages caused by their property. Ignorance to the dangers of a person’s property should not be a viable excuse to escape liability.
Another reason for a law similar to Michigan law, on the issue of dog bite liability, to be established across the country is that it will help prevent the pervasiveness of dog bites. It is important to limit the occurrence of dog bites because the victims are left traumatized, in extreme pain, and with extensive medical expenses. A strict dog bite liability law would make dog owners more attentive to their responsibility as dog owners to control their dogs. An owner of a dog might be less willing to take it around people if they have even a small suspicion that it is aggressive enough to bite another person because they want to avoid the costs of a dog bite that they were previously not responsible for. Hopefully, it will result in much fewer than 4.5 million people being bitten by a dog each year, which is the case today (Dog). It will especially help on half of the dog bite cases, which are children, because it will take the responsibility of knowing the dangers of being friendly with a dog from children to dog owners (Dog). With all this being said, legislators have a responsibility to the citizens of the United States of America to stop preventable injuries, which they can do by establishing a strict liability dog bite law.
"Dog Bite Liability." III. Insurance Information Institute, May 2015. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.