It is possible for even the most loving, sweet pet dogs to bite if the circumstances are right. Even if you own a dog that has never bitten another person, the possibility that it could bite is something you cannot ignore. More Americans than ever own dogs and more Americans are bringing those dogs into public places like restaurants and coffee shops. Specifically, restaurants that are pet-friendly are becoming more popular as more Millennials opt for pet ownership. Currently, 44% of households in the United States include a dog. That is why it is essential for people to understand the legalities surrounding dog ownership.
New Hampshire Dog Bite Laws
Many regard New Hampshire’s dog bite law as more favorable to the victim of dog bites than the dog bite laws in other states. New Hampshire Revised Statutes Section 466:19 states that when a dog someone does not own bites that person’s body, property, or other animals, the victim can recover damages from the dog’s owner.
A person does not have to own the biting dog for a New Hampshire court to hold you liable for a dog bite. Someone could be keeping the dog or in possession of the dog when it bites and still be liable for damages. If you are watching a dog for a friend who is out of town for the weekend, and the dog bites someone, the victim can sue you personally for damages. If the dog is owned by a minor or someone under the age of 18, the bite victim can recover damages from the dog owner’s parents.
The law does make a notable exception. If someone is trespassing on the dog owner’s property or committing another tort on the property and a dog bites the trespasser or tortfeasor, the dog owner will not be responsible for damages. For example, if a person is breaking into someone’s home and the dog living in the home bites the intruder, the homeowner will not be liable for the damages.
Is a Dog Owner Strictly Liable When a Dog Bites Someone in New Hampshire?
Yes. Per the holding in Allgeyer v. Lincoln, 125 N.H. 503, 506 (1984), a dog owner will be held strictly liable for a dog’s “vicious or mischievous acts.” Such an act includes any action that causes injury, not just a bite, including scaring someone riding a bicycle and causing him or her to fall over and incur an injury. Bohan v. Ritzo, 141 N.H. 210, 218 (1996)
If You Have Received an Injurious Dog Bite, It is Important to Seek Legal Assistance
As evidenced above, New Hampshire takes dog bites extremely seriously. Even if you do not consider the injury to be severe, you could still be entitled to damages caused by the injury. If a dog has bitten you, we recommend speaking to an experienced New Hampshire dog bite attorney who will advise you on your rights.