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Dog Bite Injuries

A Rhode Island Dog Bite Lawyer can Help Victims of Dog Bite Injuries

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog in Rhode Island, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your bite related injuries. It is imperative to speak with an experienced Rhode Island dog bite attorney immediately after the attack has occurred. Attorney David Tapalian and his skilled legal team represent numerous individuals who suffer serious lacerations, infected wounds, broken bones, scarring, and various other injuries from a dog bite or dog attack in the Ocean State. Animal bites are prone to infection and canine puncture wounds can be especially serious when the victim is an infant, small child or elderly person. Young children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to dog attacks and in addition to bites, frequently suffer fall-related injuries like broken bones and head trauma after being knocked down by an aggressive or overly excited dog. Many people believe that particular dog breeds, such as pit bulls or rottweilers, are the only canines capable of vicious bites. However, as dog bite attorneys in Rhode Island know, almost any breed of dog under given circumstances is capable of biting or hurting a person.

I Was Just Bitten by a Dog in Rhode Island. What Should I do?

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has established an animal bite protocol. First, you should always seek immediate medical treatment after your Rhode Island dog bite. RI DEM Animal Bite Protocol has established certain pertinent steps to take following an animal bite injury:

  • Immediately direct the person who has been bitten to medical treatment.
  • Apply pressure to stop any bleeding.
  • Thoroughly wash wounds with soap and water.
  • After a thorough wash, apply antiseptic solution.
  • See a physician as soon as possible.

After seeking treatment for your injuries, contact the local police in the city where the dog bite or animal attack occurred to document the incident. The Rhode Island Department of Health should also be contacted and an Animal Bite Case Report Form should be completed and submitted. Seek out the expert legal advice of Rhode Island Dog Bite Lawyer David Tapalian to determine what legal options are available after your dog attack.

Rhode Island Dog Bite Law

Each state, including Rhode Island, has its own set of laws as it pertains to dog bites. Rhode Island has statutory law and common law; both can affect your dog bite case and subsequent monetary compensation. Both sources of law must be properly interpreted by an experienced Rhode Island dog bite attorney to construe your particular facts and circumstances. Rhode Island Gen. Section 4-13-16, enumerates the statutory law for Rhode Island dog bites. This dog bite law sets forth the liability of the dog owner when the bite occurs outside and/or inside of an enclosure.

In a situation where a dog bite occurs outside of an enclosure, like a fenced in yard, the owner or keeper of that dog is responsible for all damages sustained by the person. If, after that initial bite, any damage occurs again by that same dog, the owner or keeper of the dog is responsible for double the damages. Typically, for Rhode Island dog bites that occur outside of an enclosure, “strict liability” applies in most circumstances.

My Dog Bite Took Place Inside the Dog’s Enclosure

The Rhode Island Supreme Court determined that the “strict liability” provisions of Rhode Island Gen. Law 4-13-16 do not apply when the bite occurred inside an enclosure, such as a fenced in yard. Many interpret this to mean that Rhode Island utilizes the “one bite” rule, meaning that a dog is allowed “one free bite” before their owner is in legal trouble. However, if a Rhode Island dog bite victim can prove that the dog owner was aware of the dog’s violent propensities (such as the dog previously biting another person) then they can seek to recover damages for their injuries. In order to be successful, among other factors a plaintiff must prove that the owner of the dog knew, or should have known, that the dog had violent propensities. Ferrara V. Marra, 823 A.2d 1134,1137 (R.I.2003). The Rhode Island Supreme Court in Ferrara V. Marra, opined as follows:

Although this defendant may not be held strictly liable by virtue of the dogs' breed, he may be found negligent if he knew about the dogs' vicious propensities. The defendant admitted that he was "aware that some people breed pit bull terriers as attack dogs[,]" but he unequivocally denied having any knowledge of the previous dog-bite incident or that the dogs in question had "any vicious propensities whatsoever." However, we believe that a genuine issue of material fact existed about whether defendant had knowledge of the vicious propensities of at least one of the dogs.
Can I Sue a Dog’s Owner for My Dog Bite?

Dog bites are some of the most traumatic injuries that we see at Tapalian Law. Unfortunately, we often see children as the victims of dog bites in Rhode Island. If certain factual circumstances exist, you most certainly can receive compensation for your, or your child’s, dog bite injuries. Placing liability on the dog owner is a very fact intensive test. Attorney David Tapalian and his dog bite injury team, will ascertain all of the facts necessary to place liability upon the owner of the dog. There may be insurance that the owner of the dog has for such injuries. If the dog had vicious propensities that were known to the owner, or even to the property owner, this may also assist in your claim for recovering compensation. Dog bite injuries may include, but are not limited to- initial trauma, pain-and-suffering, lost income, lost earning capacity, scarring, and post-traumatic stress. It’s essential to have a competent dog bite injury attorney with the experience to represent you and fight on your behalf for fair and just compensation for your damages.

What is My Dog Bite Case Worth?

If you, or your child, are the victim of a dog bite, after seeking immediate medical help you will want to consult a qualified dog bite lawyer. The laws and liability surrounding dog bite injuries differ between Rhode Island and Massachusetts, so ensure you seek help from a dog bite attorney experienced in RI and MA, like Attorney David Tapalian, depending on where the injury occurred. If your lawyer feels you have a strong personal injury claim against the dog’s owner or keeper, he or she will recommend the best way to move forward. The compensation you are entitled to in a dog bite claim depends highly on the specific circumstances. Considerations may be based on factors including, but not limited to, the severity and extent of the injuries, length of medical treatment, surgeries, need for future medical care or surgery, age of the victim, location of the injury, scarring, lost wages, limited earning capacity, and pain and suffering.

Why do I Need a Dog Bite Lawyer?

Rhode Island dog bite law is anything but straightforward. How the Ocean State’s law pertains to dog bites is a complex mixture of common law and statutory law and should be expertly interpreted by a skilled dog bite attorney well-versed in Rhode Island laws. Many factors must be accurately determined in order to find liability on the dog owner, or keeper, and subsequently collect damages. Attorney David Tapalian has the legal expertise to help you navigate the complex scheme that is Rhode Island’s dog bite law. Call the Providence, Rhode Island dog bite attorneys at Tapalian Law today at 401-552-5000, or contact us online, for a free consultation of your animal bite or RI personal injury case.

Client Reviews
He took care of everything and kept me updated as well. It was such a smooth process and in the end I won my case. I would highly recommend David Tapalian! Patrice F.
When I contacted David Tapalian, Attorney & Counselor at Law, all my worries were immediately alleviated. He handled my case from beginning to end and kept me updated every step of the way. Susie M.
I visited David a couple of days after my accident and he gave me clear and concise details on what would happen throughout the process... David N.