Dog Bites

Liability for Dog Bites

In the State of Iowa, the owner of a Pit bull, Doberman, Rottweiler, German Sheppard, or other dog is legally responsible for damages caused by the dog when the dog is attacks or attempts to bite a person. The law imposes what is called strict liability. In other words, all the injured person must show is that they were injured by the dog and the dog was owned by the defendant. The injured person does not have to establish that the owner was negligent or did anything wrong which caused the dog to bite. The only exception is when the injured party is “doing an unlawful act, directly contributing to the injury.” (for example breaking into the home or trespassing).

Strict Liability

Because dog bites are strict liability in the State of Iowa, one of the most common areas of contention is centered around who qualifies as the true “owner” of the dog. According to the statute, the owner of the dog is “the person to whom the dog legally belongs.” Information tending to establish ownership would be things such as city licensing documents, veterinary records, and AKC or other breeding paperwork.

Owner, Possessor, Keeper, Dog Sitter - All Liable

Liability for damages caused by a Pit bull, Doberman, Rottweiler, German Sheppard or other dogs is not limited to only the legal owner of the animal. Iowa law also states that a “keeper” or “possessor” of a domestic animal such as a dog may be held liable when the injuries resulting were the result of known vicious tendencies or propensities. Thus, while the legal owner would be strictly liable, an individual keeping the dog on their property could also be held liable for damages if it can be proven that they knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous or potentially dangerous based upon prior experiences.

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