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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

What Is the One Bite Rule in Ohio? - Seeking Compensation After Dog Bites

Dog bite wounds can be fatal in some cases. As such, the law in Ohio is designed to hold the dog owner liable for injuries caused by their dog.

The Ohio dog bite statute follows the "one-bite rule" and allows victims to seek fair compensation by filing a dog bite claim against the at-fault parties.

However, dog owners are not always willing to pay the victim. This is true even in cases where they are clearly to blame for the dog bite injuries caused by their pet.

In such cases, victims will often have to fight tooth and nail before receiving anything from the dog's owner.

Having an experienced dog bite law firm in Cincinnati OH who is ready to go to war for their rights can help victims walk away with huge settlement offers in dog bite-related personal injury cases.

Victims who want to be represented by experts in Ohio law can call Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys at +1 513-224-5390 and request a free consultation. They are able to consult on the statute of limitations for a pedestrian accident in Ohio.

Overview of Ohio Dog Bite Law

Overview of Ohio Dog Bite Law

Over 15,358 dog bites were recorded in Ohio in 2020. These figures from the Ohio Department of Health highlight the high number of dog bite cases in the state.

This is part of the reason why Ohio dog bite law has adopted the one-bite rule, unlike other states that use common law dog bite rules.

In common law jurisdiction states, a dog's owner is only held liable for the dog bite injury if the victim can show that the dog has bitten someone else before.

This is not the case in Ohio, where dog owners are held liable for every dog bite their pets inflict, including the first one.

In most cases, after being sued for dog bite injuries, dog owners usually turn to their homeowner's insurance policy to help compensate the victims.

As a result, dog bite injury claims account for more than a third of all homeowners’ claims in the U.S. Dog bite victims can usually expect to get around $50,000 from their homeowner's insurance claim.

Is the Dog Owner Always Liable? Three Important Theories in Ohio

In a dog bite lawsuit, various legal doctrines are used to prove the liability of the dog's owner. In most cases, the victim's legal team will choose the best doctrine to support their case from the following three theories:

The One-Bite Rule

What is the one-bite rule in Ohio? According to this rule, the dog owner can be held liable if:

  • The dog's behavior results in damage to the victim.

  • It can be shown that the owner knew that they had a dangerous dog based on the past behavior of the animal.

  • It can be proven that the dog was likely to cause dog bite injuries to someone else.

Before the implementation of the one-bite rule, a dog could essentially get a free bite if the owner had no reason to suspect that their dog is dangerous.

This meant if a victim was injured in a dog bite incident, the owner would not be held liable unless it could be proved that the owner knew about the dog's violent behavior.

The one bite rule allows victims to seek compensation from the dog owner even if it is the first incident. Removing the burden of having to prove that the owner knew that their dog bites makes it easier for the injured person to receive damages for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.

Strict Liability

Some states do not follow the one-bite rule in such a way. In these jurisdictions, personal injury cases can be handled using the strict liability legal theory.

Under this rule, the victim will be eligible for compensation if the dog bites them in a place where they are legally allowed to be.

This opens the door for the dog owner to deny liability by claiming that the victims should not have been there in the first place when the dog bite occurred.

However, if the dog bites occur in a public place, such as a park or beach, the dog owner will be held liable for the injuries caused.


In cases where both the one-bite rule and strict liability doctrines do not apply, the victim's attorney can attempt to prove that the dog owner was negligent in allowing their pet to attack the injured person.

Examples of such cases are when the dog was not on a leash when the incident happened, or it was allowed to escape from its enclosure and attack people on the street.

Ohio Dangerous Dog Restrictions

After a dog bites someone in Ohio, it must be registered as a dangerous dog. There are certain restrictions and regulations pertaining to dangerous dogs that do not apply to other animals.

Failing to control a dangerous dog three times is an offense under Ohio law, and the owner will be required to get liability insurance to cover potential dog bite incidents.

The following are some of the common restrictions that are imposed on the owners of dangerous dogs:

  • Potential buyers must be informed of its dangerous dog status.

  • The county auditor must be notified within 10 days of the sale.

  • The dog must wear a "dangerous dog" tag at all times.

  • The animal must be kept in a locked cage or secure yard.

  • The dog must be kept on a short leash that is less than 6 feet long at all times.

The One Bite Rule When Victims Are Attacked Inside the Owner's Property

A surprisingly large number of attacks occur when the victims are inside the owner's property.

Ohio's premises liability laws require the owner to exercise a certain standard of care towards all the occupants inside their house or yard. This includes preventing the dog from biting guests.

The following are some of the common cases when dogs attack victims inside the owner's property:

Previous Dangerous Behavior

If the dog has previously attacked someone, the owner may be held strictly liable for any dog bite incidents that occur inside their property, even if the guests were made aware of the presence of the dog.

House Guests

If the dog owner has guests on their property, it is their duty to restrain or confine the dog if it has a history of violent tendencies. If a dog bite incident occurs, the victims can sue the owner for negligence.


In some states, being bitten by a dog while trespassing on the owner's property may mean the victims are no longer eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit.

However, this does not mean the owner is allowed to intentionally allow their dog to bite the victims.

What Happens to the Dog After Biting Someone?

Biting someone does not always result in fatal consequences for the dog, even in states that follow the one-bite rule.

In many cases, after the dog bite incident, the animal will be quarantined for at least 10 days as a measure against rabies.

During its quarantine, the dog will be examined for signs of rabies infection. If the owner can provide vaccination documents, it can help to get the dog released faster.

In cases where the dog has caused severe injuries to the victim, it may be labeled as a potentially vicious dog, which may come with certain restrictions.

This label can be removed after some months if the dog can demonstrate good behavior.

There are extreme cases where the attack is so serious that the court will label the dog as vicious. In such cases, the animal may have to be put down, or the owner will have to pay dog bite liability insurance for the animal to be released out of quarantine.

Such consequences and dog bite penalties are also possible in cases where an unvaccinated animal is allowed to attack people. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can help answer questions such as Do hospitals report dog bites in Ohio?

Steps a Dog Bite Victim Must Take

Steps a Dog Bite Victim Must Take

In the aftermath of an animal attack, the person bitten by the dog must take certain steps to ensure that they receive the medical care and compensation that they deserve.

Taking the right steps also makes it easier for a personal injury lawyer to fight for maximum compensation if the case goes to trial.

As such, victims of dog bites in Ohio need to remember the following:

  • Seek medical attention

  • Report the dog bite to a law enforcement officer or Animal Care and Control

  • Obtain a doctor's report

  • Gather evidence, such as photos of the scene of the incident

  • Talk to potential witnesses

  • Approach an experienced personal injury lawyer

  • File a personal injury lawsuit against the dog owner

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Will Go to War for Dog Bite Victims

Animal attacks are very common in Ohio, and the majority of them include dog bites. Victims who have been bitten by a dog as a result of someone else's negligence can use the one-bite rule to hold the dog's owner liable for their injuries.

Such cases are not always easy to win, so victims will need a reliable and experienced attorney on their side.

Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys is ready to go to war to ensure that victims in Ohio receive the compensation they deserve.

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