Delaware dog owners are responsible for injuries that their dogs cause unless the dog bite victim is
- a) a trespasser on the property;
- b) attempting to trespass;
- c) committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense; or
- d) teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog.
Delaware is different than other states that have the “one bite rule.” In Delaware, if a dog bites or harms another, the owner is held “strictly liable” regardless of whether the owner knew the dog was dangerous. The dog bite law for Delaware can be found at 16 Del. C. §3053F.
The following are types of injuries Delaware dog owners are responsible for if their dog bites or harms another:
- Tearing of Tissue
- Permanent Facial Injuries
- Nerve damage
- Arm Injuries
- Eye injuries
- Puncture wounds
- Injuries Requiring Reconstructive Surgery
- Skin or tissue requiring sutures or stitches
In Delaware, dog owners can also be liable if their dog jumps on a person, knocks a person down, or trips or chases a person causing them to fall and get injured. A dog owner can also be responsible if the dog causes a victim to fall from their bicycle or motorcycle.Children as Victims of Dog Bites
Children are the most likely victims of dog bites. Typical behaviors that children exhibit such as running, screaming, yelling, or jumping can startle the dog and result in a bite. Children can be seriously injured by dog bites due to the proximity of their face to the dog’s mouth. This can result in a bite to the face which can result in severe or permanent disfigurement. These facial bites may require reconstructive or plastic surgery.Who Will Pay for the Injuries?
In a dog bite case, the dog owner’s homeowners insurance policy will likely pay for the injuries. A Delaware dog owner is typically not going to pay a dime for the dog bite victim’s injuries. Even if the dog owner rents the property, the property owner is likely to carry homeowner’s insurance. Any mortgaged property requires homeowners insurance. However, some homeowners policies will exclude coverage dangerous breeds such as Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds or Dobermann Pinschers. If the homeowner’s policy has lapsed or non-existent, renter’s insurance could be a source for recovery as well as the landlord. Landlords can be liable in Delaware if they had knowledge the dog was dangerous prior to the attack.
In a dog bite injury case, it is critical to find the owner of the dog. You must prove who owns the dog in order to recover. Ownership can usually be established by obtaining a copy of the dog license through county records or obtaining veterinary or animal control records.Contact Us
If you or someone you know is the victim of a dog bite you should be contacting a Delaware Dog Bite Lawyer once you have received proper medical attention. You have a limited time to collect valuable compensation for your injuries. The statute of limitations (time to file a lawsuit) is two years for Delaware dog bite injury cases but there are certain steps that should be taken prior to the expiration of the statute.
Call Jason R. Antoine Attorney at Law at (302) 482-4802 for a free consultation and case review. You can also submit your information through our contact form. If retained, my office works on a contingency fee basis. You will not pay anything out-of-pocket unless we win on your behalf.
 Source: The American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA).
Statistics obtained from the Delaware Coalition for Injury Prevention
The one bite rule allows dog owners to escape responsibility for the first person the dog bites. After the first bite, the dog owner is on notice that the dog is dangerous and will be on the hook for any subsequent bites by the dog.
 The one bite rule allows dog owners to escape responsibility for the first person the dog bites. After the first bite, the dog owner is on notice that the dog is dangerous and will be on the hook for any subsequent bites by the dog.