Under Louisiana Civil Code article 2321, dogs are treated differently than other animals when they cause a personal injury. For cases involving animals, aside from dogs, the law requires proof that the owner of the animal was negligent. In contrast, when a New Orleans resident is bitten by a dog, the owner of the dog is strictly liable for any injury caused by it.
This does not, however, mean that dog owners must automatically pay damages in every dog bite case. 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 of the dog could have prevented the dog’s actions, the plaintiff must show the dog presented an unreasonable risk of harm.
What constitutes an unreasonable risk of harm must be determined on a case-by-case basis. The individual right of the dog owner must be weighed against the risk and gravity of harm to the public. In this situation, factors considered 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.
Finally, if the injured person provoked the dog into causing injury, the owner is not responsible for the dog’s actions.
If you have suffered a personal injury and have any questions regarding this topic, please feel free to call our office at 504-581-6411 or 877-581-6411.