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Dog Bites & Dog Attacks



Fido may be cute and cuddly, but he can also be vicious. Dog bites happen everyday, some more serious than others. Some may even require medical attention.


In Oregon, the law concerning a dog bite is not as simple as say California where there is strict liability for canine attacks (if you need a good attorney in the Los Angeles area, see my colleague Dani Mouri). Instead, you usually have to show the dog had dangerous propensities. This gets into "whether plaintiff's injury was foreseeable". Van Zanten v. Van Zanten, 190 Or. App. 73, 78 P.3d 100 (Or. App., 2003). If so, you win.


Often this means showing the owner knew or should have known the dog was a danger. That is often shown by a prior bite or attack, which is where we get the colloquial one-bite rule. However, that is not the only way you can show the dog was dangerous. For instance, showing the dog is extremely aggressive, such as excessive barking and growling.

Additionally, since this is an action for negligence, you can also have negligence per se, which makes it much more like strict liability. That is, if the owner was violating some law or ordinance at the time, that will also allow for a recovery. This often is in play, as dogs are often off their leash against city or county ordinances when a bite occurs. Many playgrounds and schools also prohibit dogs, allowing for yet another angle to ensure the dog owner pays for the damages they caused you.


There damages can be severe. You start with the medical expenses, and then add in your pain and suffering, property damage (such as your ruined pants), and then lost income as well. An attorney well versed in this area can help you to maximize your recovery to help punish the dog owner.

To that end, homeowners and renters insurance will often provide coverage to the dog owner, assuming the owner has insurance. This means you often can obtain payment for the injuries. Also, if the person is a renter, you may also be able to go after their landlord in certain circumstances if the renter did not have insurance.


Speaking of insurance, be sure you have enough as well. If you own a dog, you do not want to risk losing your house because of inadequate insurance.

Thus, if you were bitten by a dog, call Stevens & Legal today for a free consultation. We will give you our honest opinion as to how strong of a case you have, and what steps to take, even if you do not hire us.

See also:

  • ORS §31.360

  • Westberry v. Blackwell, 282 Or. 129 (1978)

  • Medlyn v. Armstrong, 49 Or.App. 829 (1980)

  • Lange v. Minton, 303 Or. 484 (1987)


Prior Lawsuits Filed:


Dog biting a person

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