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Dog Bites in Off-Leash Parks: Are Dog Owners Liable for a Bite?

Dog parks were created to give dogs a place to roam free and interact with other dogs, usually divided into a small dog section and big dog section. But, when dogs are allowed to roam free and play around with other dogs, there is bound to be the occasional scuffle. Can someone successfully execute a dog bite lawsuit when two dogs go at each other, or after a dog owner while playing at a dog park?

Even though dog parks are a convenient way to kick back and let your dog run off their leash, the outing comes with its own set of risks. In fact, you need to pay particular attention, or you may end up in a dog bite lawsuit. Some people carelessly bring dogs that are not suited to interact with strangers and other dogs at a leash-free park.

Dog owners should never bring a non-neutered male dog or otherwise aggressive dogs to the dog park. It invites scuffles between dogs, and the potential for injury to you or your pet. On the opposite end of the behavior spectrum, timid and/or unsocialized dogs may attack out of fear. Either scenario could lead to confrontations between dog owners, which could bring about its own set of legal issues.

Liability for dog bites that happen at dog parks can be somewhat different from incidents that happen elsewhere. But people or pets who suffer injuries at dog parks still have most of the usual rights in dog parks as they would in any other environment.

Leashes may be optional at dog parks, but that does not let owners off the hook for a potential dog bite lawsuit if anything happens due to their dog attacking another dog or an owner. In essence, the only difference in and out of the leash-optional dog park is that inside the park, the city’s leash laws do not apply. But they are not anarchy zones.

If you or your dog have been attacked and injured at a dog park, what sort of legal rights do you have, and what are the chances of winning a lawsuit?

While the general dog bite laws are the same at a dog park, there are some unique difficulties for a dog bite attorney in proving guilt in dog bite lawsuits involving unleashed dogs at the park. When dogs are inherently allowed to be off their leash in a dog park, that aspect of owner responsibility is a little more liberal. But they still have to use responsible judgement.

If the owner of a dog that has demonstrated aggressive behavior fails to keep it on a leash in a dog park, or allows it to injure someone or their dog, the victim can still successfully sue for damages in a court of law.

Something else that you need to consider is the ambiguity of the waver of rights that is usually posted at a dog park. You should always read the warning signs posted at dog parks to familiarize yourself with what is expect of you and other patrons by the dog park.

While the waiver of rights sign may free other pet owners of some level of liability, there are some exceptions. Courts will not allow a posted sign to shield people from responsibility for an unlawful act. But, you may assume some reasonable risks that might not be assumed outside of a dog park, Consult a personal injury lawyer who specializes in dog bite law to get a better understanding of your rights and how you should exercise caution in a leash-free park.

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