Dog Bite Injury Questions



I love dogs. Growing up my family always had a dog and I think it is important for adults and kids to feel comfortable around dogs and other animals. While many people love dogs and keep them as pets, they are still animals, and can be dangerous depending on the situation. Oregon has a specific law for dog bites, though the dog owner is typically liable for any injuries his or her dog causes. It is important to always use care when dealing with a dog to prevent harm to anyone. Please contact me at 503-546-0461 or jpl@pdxinjury.com if you have any further questions regarding dog bite injuries or if you or a loved one were injured from a dog bite. For more information, please also see the general Dog Bite Injuries page.


What is a dangerous propensity?


A dangerous propensity refers to a dog’s aggressive behavior and can include biting, lunging at or jumping on people, growling, raising hackles and acting protectively.


What are the most common dangerous dog breeds?


The overwhelming majority of serious dog bite incidents involve Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. Other breeds that are commonly known for possessing dangerous propensities include German Shepherds, Boxers, Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chows, Presa Canarios and Dalmatians. Any breed of dog will bite under the "right" circumstances. Usually, an owner has failed to train the dog properly or worse trained the dog to be aggressive or abused the dog. Most of the "dangerous" breeds possess characteristics that make their bite especially devastating. They are large, strong and usually protective breeds. When someone is bitten by a Chihuahua, they may not even go to the doctor. However, when bitten by a Pit Bull it may mean surgery or worse.


What is the “one-bite rule?”


Oregon law follows the “one-bite rule” when it comes to dog bites. This means an owner of a dog that the owner knows or has reason to know has dangerous propensities abnormal to the dog’s class (its breed) is strictly liable for the injury the dog caused, even if the owner used the utmost care in trying to prevent the harm. In other words, if a dog exhibits uncharacteristically dangerous behavior, the owner is responsible for the dog, even if he or she attempted to stop the harm from occurring. When a dog’s dangerous propensities are known, the owner is not negligent for how he or she keeps the dog, but for keeping the dog at all.


The dog owner told me the dog was friendly, but I was still bitten. Is the owner responsible?


Yes. In Oregon, even if the dog does not have dangerous propensities, meaning it is not of a known dangerous breed or it has not attacked or bitten someone before, a jury might still find the owner responsible under a common law negligence claim. For a dog bite, you must usually prove your injury was foreseeable given the owner’s actions in regard to the dog. A dog owner is obligated to know the characteristics that are typical to the dog’s class and must exercise reasonable care to avoid foreseeable harm of someone. An owner of a typically docile dog must also be aware that, under certain circumstances, the animal might behave dangerously.


What is negligence in a dog bite case?


A dog owner might still be found liable under a common law negligence claim for injuries from a bite even if the dog did not have known dangerous propensities. A dog owner is required to know the characteristics normal to the dog’s class and exercise the utmost care in preventing any foreseeable harm. Failing to leash a dog when one is required, taunting or teasing a dog to the point where it bites someone, or bringing a dog into an environment where it may become agitated, such as a hot, loud crowded room are all examples of potentially negligent behavior by a dog owner.