By statute, the owner, or in some situations, the “keeper”, of a dog is liable for the full amount of damages caused by the dog. The dog bite law is a “strict liability” law meaning that the claimant does not have to prove negligence on the part of the owner. Owners of dogs are liable for injuries and damages caused by their dogs to another person, domestic pet, or property.

A dog bite should be reported to local law enforcement. The most crucial first step is to make sure that the dog is not released or destroyed if they bite or attack. A ten-day quarantine can ensure the animal is free of rabies. Without a rabies vaccination and quarantine period, the bitten person may have to undergo a series of painful rabies shots.

State law requires that the dog owner provide proof of current vaccinations, and if the dog is not vaccinated, the dog must be quarantined at an isolation facility. An isolation facility can be a veterinarian’s office, a pound, a Humane Society shelter or the owner’s home, provided the property is secure.  The dog must be quarantined for ten days.

If the owner knew that the dog had previously caused an injury, the owner may be liable for double the amount of damages.  The damages for a first bite or injury to a person is usually limited to the actual damages, meaning medical bills, wage loss and for any reasonable compensation for their pain, discomfort and disfigurement. If, however, the owner knew the dog had caused a previous injury, those damages can be doubled.

Keeping a known dangerous dog, as defined by the law, can be a risky and expensive endeavor. Even if the initial injury was accidental or provoked, the owner is deemed having “notice” and, therefore, liable for double damages and fees if the dog bites again.

Changes made to Wisconsin’s dog bite law in 2015 clarified that in cases of a second bite, the first bite had to have been “without provocation” for victims to claim double damages.  Double damages are only applicable to people and not domestic animals or property. Further, the bite must break the skin of the potential claimant and result in permanent scarring and disfigurement.

If the injuries or damages caused from a dog bite were serious, call us at (715) 246-2211 to speak with one of our experienced attorneys. We will help you understand your legal rights in Wisonsin and Minnesota.

Since 1883, the attorneys at Doar, Drill & Skow have represented families, individuals and businesses across Wisconsin and Minnesota in areas of personal injury, criminal defense, family law and divorce, civil litigation, estate planning and trusts, workers compensation, and more. We are recognized as one of western Wisconsin’s most skilled and successful personal injury law firms and have built our reputation on what we achieve for our clients. We are committed to being your advocate, regardless of your circumstances. Located in New Richmond, we serve clients throughout western Wisconsin and Minnesota.

DISCLAIMER: The Doar, Drill, and Skow blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported may come from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these types of situations choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

Sources: Wisconsin Statute 174.02 (b) found here and The Wisconsin Department of Health Services