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  • Ann Sheeley

Dog Bites ~ What You Need To Know About Liability & Injury Compensation

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

Dogs may be our best friends, but they are still animals. It doesn’t matter if they are a small breed or a large breed, any type of dog can bite people for numerous reasons. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, dogs bite about 4.7 million Americans every year. One out of every five of those bites causes an injury that requires medical attention or leaves lasting scars on the victim’s face, hands and legs. Sadly, many dog bite victims are children, who are most prone to serious injury.

dog bites

In the Summer months, it is no surprise that the risk of getting bit by a dog increases due to the fact they spend more time outside and can be spooked by people walking by, fireworks, and so on. If you or a loved one were injured in a dog bite attack, please read below to understand Rhode Island’s Dog Bite Laws and follow the safety tips from Rhode Island’s dog bite personal injury firm, Sheeley Law.

Rhode Island’s Dog Bite Law

Injuries sustained in a dog attack can be serious. If the victim is a child, a dog bite can even be deadly. Some examples of dog bite-related injuries that victims might sustain include:

  • Lacerations

  • Scaring

  • Disfigurement

  • Infection

  • Broken bones

  • Psychological trauma

  • Injuries related to a victim falling while trying to escape harm

  • Catastrophic injuries

In Rhode Island, an owner is strictly liable for attacks that occur outside of the owner’s enclosure. If the attack occurred within the enclosure, then the victim must prove the owner knew of the dog’s propensity to attack, often knows as the State’s “one-bite rule.” If the dog has attacked previously, the owner is liable for double the damages if the dog bites again.

In addition, Rhode Island’s Dog Bite Law:

  • Applies not only to the dog’s owner(s) but anyone who is considered a "keeper" of the dog.

  • Does not always have to include a “bite.” The law pertains to any injury brought on by the attack.

  • Covers not only humans but a variety of victims, including another dog or other domestic animal, or a sheep, lamb, cattle, horse, hog, swine or fowl.

When Rhode Island’s Dog Bite Law does not apply, a dog owner or keeper still can be responsible for being negligent or breaking a law, such as a leash law, or for intentional conduct that causes the dog to bite. However, there can be complex factual and legal issues that have to be analyzed in order to determine the viability of a dog bite case, which is why it is recommended you speak with a Personal Injury Attorney, like Ann Sheeley, that specializes in animal attacks. In a free consultation, attorney Ann Sheeley can review your situation and discuss your legal options.

Safety Tips

At Sheeley Law, we are focused on ways to help keep our communities safe. Below are some tips for you and your family to avoid a dog attack:

  • Never leave a dog outside unattended when there is no fenced or enclosed area.

  • Create a safe space for your dog when there are fireworks, large gatherings or other situations that can make a dog feel uneasy and alarmed.

  • Small children should always be supervised around any dog. Use baby gates to keep dogs and kids separated if you can’t actively supervise them.

  • Always keep your dog on a leash during walks.

  • Never approach a dog on a leash without first asking the owner’s consent.

  • Use extreme caution when allowing your dog to socially interact with other dogs or people, especially if they are unfamiliar.

  • Enlist in professional training for your dog. This benefits not only your dog, but you as the dog owner.

If you or a loved one is bitten by a dog, you should seek medical attention and contact Sheeley Law as soon as possible as you may be eligible for compensation for medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses. Without an attorney, there is a 99% chance you will not be compensated for your injuries.

Attorney Ann Sheeley has more than 25 years of experience and a proven track record of helping dog bite victims obtain maximum compensation for their losses. She will thoroughly investigate the incident to establish the liability of the dog owner. Working with the victim’s doctor or other medical specialists, Ann and her team will gather all the information about the medical care the victim will need, which could include scar revision treatment and psychological counseling, as well as primary care services, and then fight hard to get you full compensation for your losses. Please be safe this summer and do not hesitate to contact Sheeley Law, 24/7, at 401-619-5555 or


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