New Orleans dog bite lawsuits operate under a different set of rules than cases involving other types of animals. For cases involving animals other than dogs, the law requires proof that the owner of the animal was negligent. In contrast, under Louisiana Civil Code article 2321, when someone is bitten by a dog, the owner of the dog is considered strictly liable for any injury caused by it. Proof of the owner’s negligence is not required.
This does not mean, however, that dog owners must automatically pay damages following every dog bite incident. The law also requires proof that the owner could have prevented the damage caused by the dog. The Louisiana Supreme Court has held that, to prove the owner could have prevented the dog’s actions, the injured person must demonstrate that the dog presented an unreasonable risk of harm.
What constitutes an unreasonable risk of harm is determined on a case-by-case basis. When doing so, dog owner’s rights must be weighed against the risk and gravity of harm to the public. In this situation, factors include whether the dog had previously demonstrated an aggressive disposition, efforts by the owner to restrain the dog or otherwise protect the public from possible injury, and what the injured party was doing with the dog at the time of the injury. If a dog has previously acted in a dangerous manner and the owner has made no effort to protect the public, the dog owner is more likely to be found liable.
Finally, if the injured person provoked the dog into causing injury, the owner is not responsible for the dog’s actions.
If you have been bitten by a dog and have any questions regarding this topic, please feel free to call our office at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.