Dog Bites & Animal Attacks
At the Honolulu law office of Rosenberg McKay Hoffman, our personal injury attorneys know that dog bites and animal attacks are frightening encounters. Not only can a vicious dog inflict serious injuries and even wrongful death, but the trauma of an animal attack can linger long after the physical effects of the attack have been overcome.
Small children are the most at risk for both physical and emotional injuries. Not only are children more vulnerable to serious injury or death because of their smaller size, but their limited field of experience makes them less able to appreciate the danger a dog may pose. However, even full-grown adults can suffer serious injury and trauma from a vicious animal. For many dogs, their powerful jaws can easily crush bone, tear away a limb or pierce a skull. Facial lacerations can be extremely harrowing and potentially disfiguring. It is not uncommon for a dog bite victim to experience post traumatic stress disorder and have trouble being in open areas where one may encounter a dog, seriously limiting the victim's ability to function in society after the attack. When these injuries occur, the dog's owner should generally be held liable for the animal's actions.
The Negligence Standard v. Strict Liability
In some states, dog owners are strictly liable if their animal attacks another person. Other states follow a "one free bite" rule, meaning that the owner is not liable if he or she did not know of the animal's vicious propensities beforehand. Still other states only impose liability if the owner was negligent in his or her keeping or handling of the dog. Hawaii dog bite law is a confusing combination of all the above theories, due to the wording of the law and how that law has been interpreted by the courts.
According to Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) section 663-9, if the owner knew of the animal's dangerous propensities, then the owner may be held strictly liable without having to prove negligence or fault. However, the owner may not have known this, and proving this knowledge is not necessary to win a dog bite case. In the case where the owner had no previous knowledge that the animal was dangerous, Hawaii courts have held that it is necessary for the injured plaintiff to prove negligence on the part of the animal's owner, i.e. that the owner breached a duty of care owed to the defendant, which resulted in the injury.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation
Navigating the complicated maze of Hawaii dog bite law requires representation by a skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer who knows the law and knows what steps are necessary to protect your rights and see that you get the compensation you deserve. At Rosenberg McKay Hoffman, we put our knowledge, skills and experience to work for you, helping victims and their loved ones recover compensation to help them cover their costs and cope with their injuries. If you or a loved one has suffered a vicious dog bite or animal attack, contact Rosenberg McKay Hoffman for a free consultation.