More than 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year. While most dog bites do not cause serious injury, 15 to 20 people each year will die because of dangerous dog bite infections. (ASPCA) Here are a few steps to avoid being bitten and what to do if you sustain RI personal injuries due to an attack.
The Humane Society recommends that you allow a dog its personal space. Do not approach a dog that is confined behind a fence or on a lead. Do not pet a dog without it seeing and sniffing you first. If you suspect an aggressive dog, do not move, keep your hands at your sides, and wait for the dog to lose interest before slowly walking away. Do not make eye contact. Never scream, turn your back or run, as these behaviors will excite the dog’s instinct to chase. If attacked, distract the dog with a bag or large object. In the worst case, get into the fetal position and protect your head with your arms. If bitten, wash the wound with soap and water, contact your doctor, and inform the local animal control.
In cases involving RI dog bite personal injuries, RI law distinguishes the owner’s level of liability based on where the dog was located when the injury occurs. If a dog is outside of its enclosure and injures someone, the dog owner will be liable for personal injuries under a higher, “strict liability” standard. R.I. Gen. Laws Section 4-13-16. If the dog causes an injury while within its enclosure, the strict liability statute does not apply. In these cases, the owner will be liable for personal injuries if he knew about the dog’s vicious propensities, a requirement commonly referred to as the “one-bite rule.” Dubois v. Quilitzsch, 21 A.3d 375 (R.I. 2011).