A dog bares teeth, exemplifying a case for a Rhode Island dog bite lawyer.
News & Insights

Rhode Island Dog Bite Lawyers Answer 4 Common Questions About Bite Injuries

Who is held responsible for a dog bite? Most people know that the owner of a dog is generally liable if the dog bites someone. However, not many know the particulars of their state’s dog bite laws. Here are some common questions answered by Rhode Island dog bite lawyers.

What Should Dog Owners Know About Rhode Island’s Laws?

Rhode Island dog bite law is a bit more complex than you might think. The law varies depending on where the bite occurs.

If a dog bites someone within its enclosure, such as a fenced yard, and that enclosure has some kind of sign warning that the area is private, the owner is only held liable if they knew the dog was vicious.

This means that a dog in its enclosure effectively has one free bite. If the dog bites someone again, the owner is legally liable for all damages.

For dogs outside of their enclosures, Rhode Island imposes what’s known as “strict liability.” This means that the owner is liable for all damages, even if the dog has not bitten anyone before or the owner had no reason to believe the dog was vicious.

What Should Victims Do After a Dog Bite Injury?

It’s wise for dog owners to have a general understanding of dog bite law, but everyone should know what to do if they are bitten by a dog. After all, more than 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year. Take these steps immediately following a bite:

  • Identify the Dog’s Owner: If you can figure out who owns the dog, make sure to get their contact information and ask for proof that the dog is vaccinated for rabies
  • Get Medical Care: Even mild dog bites can result in severe infections, so it’s essential to get prompt medical care
  • File a Report: It’s also important to report the bite to your city or county — this creates a paper trail supporting your claim, and it also helps protect anyone bitten by the same dog in the future
  • Document Everything: Make sure to photograph your injuries, keep track of medical bills and records, and keep a journal of your treatment and healing
  • Find an Attorney: A Rhode Island dog bite lawyer can help you recover compensation to pay for medical bills and other losses

Avoid posting about the injury on social media or discussing it with others. If you do file a claim, any statements you make could be misconstrued in ways that undermine your claim.

How Can a Lawyer Help After an Injury From a Dog Bite?

If you’ve been bitten by a dog, working with a Rhode Island dog bite lawyer is essential. Even if the owner is apologetic, a lawyer can help you negotiate with the insurance company and increase your chances of receiving a fair settlement. A competent lawyer can help you by:

Hiring Investigators to Bolster Your Case

If your case goes to court, you’ll stand a better chance of winning if you have eyewitness statements and other key details. A good lawyer can thoroughly investigate the circumstances to corroborate your version of events.

Dealing Directly With Insurance Companies

Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible, and they’ll probably try to offer you a small settlement. Sometimes, that settlement won’t even cover medical bills.

However, if you have a lawyer, the insurance company is more likely to take you seriously. Retaining a lawyer indicates that you’re prepared to fight for a fair settlement, so the insurance company might be willing to offer a larger settlement sooner.

Looking Into the Dog’s Past

If the dog that bit you did so off the owner’s property, Rhode Island’s strict liability law means that the owners are liable. However, if the dog has a history of aggressive behavior or biting, your case may be even stronger.

Looking into the dog’s past is especially important if the dog bites you on the owner’s property. In this situation, the owner is only liable if the dog has previously bitten or attacked someone.

Will Homeowners’ Insurance Cover a Dog Bite Injury?

Homeowners’ insurance usually covers a dog bite, even if the dog bites someone while off the property. However, not all policies cover dog bites. Some insurance companies won’t insure dog breeds considered to be dangerous. Others will only cover dog bite injuries that occur on the property.

Whether you’re a dog owner or a dog bite victim, never assume a homeowner’s insurance policy will cover a dog bite. Insurance policies can vary dramatically, so you should always check the policy.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Bites

What if I Don’t Know Who Owns the Dog That Bit Me?

If a loose dog bites you and you don’t know the owner, you should report the bite to local animal control as soon as possible. Officers will attempt to track down the dog and the owner.

Can a Rhode Island Dog Bite Lawyer Help if a Dog Bites Another Dog?

Personal injury lawyers generally only handle dog bite claims and lawsuits where a dog bites a person. However, the owner of a dog that bites another dog will usually be held legally responsible for veterinary bills.

Should I Discuss My Dog Bite Injury With the Owner of the Dog That Bit Me?

No. The only people you should talk to about your dog bite wounds with are your lawyer and your medical team.

Hold Owners of Dangerous Dogs Accountable

Dog bites can have long-lasting financial and health consequences. If you’ve been bitten, it should be the owner of the dog — not you — who is held responsible for medical expenses and other costs.

But in order to hold dog owners accountable, you need a knowledgeable Rhode Island dog bite lawyer on your side. At Sands Law, we exclusively focus on personal injury claims, and we tirelessly fight for justice for our clients. Contact us for your free case review today.


Recover more compensation. Save time. Worry less. Leave it to the experts at Sands Law to help you. It’s what we’re here for.

Was the first time I ever had to seek legal representation after a car accident that I was injured in. Rich was recommended to me through a family member, and I am so glad that I decided to be represented by Rich.”
Nicole, Rhode Island
Rich was supportive and helpful throughout a very difficult time for me. I recently got into a car accident where I was injured and my car was declared totaled. In complete panic not knowing what to do, I called Rich.”
Karissa, Rhode Island
Rich was a wealth of knowledge and support during a difficult time. He always made time to explain procedures and answer all questions in a timely manner.”
Mark M., Rhode Island
  • Super Lawyers
  • Avvo Rating - Top Attorney
  • Martindale-Hubbell
  • The National Trial Lawyers