dog bite

Approximately 4.5 million people are bitten or attacked by dogs each year in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and the American Veterinary Medical Association. While many of these bites do not result in serious injuries, several hundred thousand do. Children under 12 make up almost half of all dog bite victims. Approximately 1 in 5 bog bites, or about 800,000, are severe enough to require medical care. These dog bites and attacks contribute to over $1.1 billion in dog bite-related costs annually. Due in part to the high prevalence of dog ownership in Montana, a disproportionate number of dog attacks and dog bites happen here, causing injuries and trauma to those involved. In Montana, statutory and non-statutory laws set the liability rules for dog bite cases. Below, we’ll go over what to do if you were attacked or bitten by a dog in Montana, who may be responsible, and what to do if your dog bites or attacks someone. 

Who is Liable for a Dog Attack or Dog Bite in Montana?

Montana’s statewide statutory law provides that when a dog bites a person without provocation in a place located within an incorporated city or town, its owner can be held liable for any damages, whether or not the owner was aware of the dog’s viciousness. This law applies equally to owners whose dogs have never shown signs of aggression and to dogs with a history of aggression or biting. These laws are different from those in some other states, where the dog owner is only responsible if the dog has previously shown signs of aggression. Instead, Montana’s law of strict liability puts all accountability on the dog owner, regardless of previous behavior. 

However, Montana’s statewide strict liability dog bite statute only applies if the person bitten or attacked was on or in a public place or lawfully on or in a private place. That means an illegal trespasser can’t sue a dog owner for damages under the statute. Additionally, someone who provokes a dog to bite may or may not have a case, depending on the circumstances of the bite. Montana’s dog bite laws only apply specifically to dog bites; other injuries caused by a dog have different rules.

If the strict liability statute does not apply, a dog owner may still be liable if they are negligent and their dog attacks or bites someone. Various municipalities and counties may also have laws that dictate liability and the law in that municipality or country. Thus, where the dog bite or attack occurs, it may set or supplement the applicable law and rules.

What to Do After a Dog Bite

Dog bites can happen unexpectedly. If a dog bites you or someone you’re with, you should know what to do to get help and protect your rights. 

Although a dog bite scene may be hectic, getting the dog owner’s contact information is essential if possible. Also, try to get the contact information of any witnesses. Write down other facts, like a description of the dog, where the bite took place, and your account of the incident. 

Dog bites can cause severe and even life-threatening injuries. Many dogs have strong jaws and large teeth that can break skin or bones. Injuries to the face and hands are common and can require multiple surgeries to correct them. Even then, some injuries can impact someone for the rest of their life. On top of that, dogs carry various diseases that can lead to infections even if they’re fully vaccinated. It’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you are injured by a dog bite or attack. Timely seeking medical care is important for your health. Getting medical treatment for a dog bite is also important for getting and preserving records of your injuries for filing an insurance claim or in court if the claim results in litigation. Also, the site of any bite should be monitored, as infection may occur in the ensuing days or weeks, even if the bite did not initially appear severe. 

Anyone bitten by a dog should report the bite to his or her local health department. You never know whether a dog is up to date on its vaccinations, and the health department needs to know about the incident to perform a rabies investigation. Under Montana law, anyone with reason to suspect a dog has a dangerous, infectious, contagious, or communicable disease must report the animal to authorities. Such diseases include rabies and other diseases. 

The aftermath of a dog bite injury can be devastating. Damages can include medical bills, surgeries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and much more. If you suffered a serious injury as a result of a dog bite or attack, you may have a right to be compensated for the injury. A Montana lawyer can help you get what you are owed under Montana law. Contact AFJ Law Firm today to schedule a consultation with a Montana dog bite attorney.