There are a number of issues that arise in dog bite cases. At this time, there is actually a full breed ban on certain breeds. The American Pit Bull Terrier is the better known of these. However, it’s important to note that this legislation may be difficult to work with in court and so, you must protect yourself if you or someone you love has been the victim to a negligent dog owner.
A few facts about the legislation itself, which has sparked a great deal of debate. Until the 80s, there wasn’t any sort of sanction or rulings on the various breeds that can be dangerous. There were a number of statutes relating to the One Bite Rule but this encompassed all dogs, not just specific breeds. Those rules can be found in the Restatement of the Law of Torts, 2nd and they’re found in many legal works, particularly in the 4th American Jurisprudence 2nd, Animals, 86, 90. (1962)
However, there have been numerous changes since that time. Both criminal and civil law in respect to this changed and continue to as time goes on and more dog owners are being held responsible for their animals in a more strict way. In criminal cases, if someone is accused of any kind of assault wherein a certain breed, the pit bull, for instance, is found to be the weapon of choice: the breed, not prior disposition will be taken into consideration.
Civil suits work a little bit differently. If the dog has bitten someone, many courts now consider the breed to be prior knowledge of viciousness. It does not usually matter if the dog’s prior demeanor was good or not, as seen in Edgar V. Riley. Pit Bull owners were seen to have been aware of the breed’s sometimes noted “attack without warning” history, and this supported civil liability. It’s also important to note, however, that a number of courts will not allow this to be the basis if it can be proved that the dog was not vicious in the past.
It is important to consider that not all dogs who attack are pit bulls, but this is the breed of focus. Also, it’s key that people protect themselves as sometimes any dog can attack. Though we may not know what causes them to do so, unprovoked dog attacks are more common than people like to talk about.