Approximately 4.5 million dog bites are reported each year, with 1 in 5 of those bites becoming infected (according to the CDC), 28,000 requiring reconstructive surgery (according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons) and accounting for one-third – or $700 million – of all homeowner insurance liability payouts (per the Insurance Information Institute).
Defendants in these cases can sometimes include not just the owner of the dog, but the property owner controlling the site where the bite occurred.
In Litke v. Munkoff, the Idaho Supreme Court recently upheld a $201,000 verdict in favor of a dog bite victim against his neighbors and their adult son after the son’s dog bit him, causing serious injuries. The defendants sought a new trial or in the alternative, a remittitur to lower the damages. The state supreme court found no reversible error.
According to court records, it started when an animal control officer responded to the scene of an allegedly vicious dog and found a pit bull aggressively charging any person who got near him. The officer had to call in a second officer to help capture the dog, an the pair eventually tasered the canine to subdue and capture him. The next day, the dog’s owner (defendants’ son) called animal control officers to report the dog missing. The officer informed him the dog was in animal control custody, had been declared aggressive and that he would need to sign paperwork indicating he understood his requirements under local ordinance before he could claim the dog. The owner told the officer his dog would be better controlled at his parents’ home rather than his apartment. The officer met the dog’s owner at his parents’ home and determined the fence was appropriate in height to meet the ordinance requirements, but that he must also post a Beware of Dog sign and if the dog left the premises, he’d need to be muzzled. The father arrived home while the officer was there and agreed verbally to follow the ordinance requirements. Continue reading