As a rule, owners are liable when their dogs or pets bite someone or hurt them some other way. However, when the bite victim sues for compensation for sustained injuries, its owner might have a legal defense or two to shun liability. Under what is called the “assumption of risk” defense, the owner party may argue the bite victim knew there was a risk of getting hurt by it but anyway it took voluntarily.
Courts in some US states apply the said defense when dogs bite a veterinarian during treatment. Most veterinarians understand dog bites are occupational hazards. Therefore, they may find their lawsuit thrown out in the case they sue the owners of the dog for the injuries. Using the same logic, such US states found the “assumption of risk” rule also extends to veterinarians’ assistants, veterinary technicians, kennel operators, groomers, and others who work with pets as part of their job.
There are exceptions to the “assumption of risk” defense. Even when it would otherwise pertain, there may still be circumstantial exceptions. For instance, the owner of an animal might still be legally responsible for the injuries in the event:
- The owner kept a particular danger that was further than the common risk of working with animals a secret, such as the vicious temper of a dog.
- The dog owner still had total control of it, and the groomer or veterinarian had not yet accepted that risk.
Aside from the above-mentioned rule, some US courts found other ways for ruling out lawsuits by veterinarians as well as other animal workers bitten on their job. Someone who is taking care of the canine may be as liable as its legal owner in lawsuits based upon dog bite statutes, negligence, or the “one-bite rule”. Several courts found vets, groomers, kennel operators, and vet technicians should be regarded as “owner” or “keeper” of dog under their care – which means they are not entitled to sue the legal owners for dog bites or other injuries occurred at the time. However, not all courts concur with this reasoning.
If you are going to sue someone for the injury, asks these questions to your dog attack lawyer.
- If state law says the dog owner is not liable when it bites someone who provoked the animal, is it possible the vet technician provoked it by holding the terrified dog down roughly as well as drawing blood from her without giving a sedative?
- Could the occupational risk assumed by the vet from a legal standpoint affect the amount the jury might grant the professional?
- Being the owner, you kept your hand upon the nervous dog in the treatment room to keep it calm after getting permission to be there. It did not work though, and the dog bit the veterinarian. In such a case, can the professional still be considered the “owner” or “keeper” of the dog for purposes of state dog bite statute?