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I was bitten by a dog on a sidewalk. The dog appeared to have escaped from a fenced-in yard. Can I still recover damages?

A dog’s owner is liable for the animal’s actions on Iowa streets and sidewalks

Yes, you may still be able to recover damages if the dog that hurt you was in a fenced-in yard and escaped the boundaries of the fence.

Fences are important and may prevent some dog bite injuries. However, they are not foolproof (or even dog proof). Thus, if a dog owner is going to rely on a fence to keep his or her dog away from other people, then the owner has the responsibility to make sure that the fence is well maintained and that it is not in need of repair.

Iowa Is a Strict Liability Dog Bite State

In Iowa, the owner of a dog may be responsible for dog bite injuries even if the owner thought that the dog was contained in the yard. Damages may include compensation for medical expenses, out-of-pocket expenses, lost income, pain, suffering and other costs incurred because of the accident.

In order to recover damages, you will need to prove:

  • Which dog hurt you.
  • The value of your damages.

Additionally, you should be prepared for the dog owner, or his insurer, to argue that you contributed to the accident by provoking the animal or acting in an unlawful manner. If the dog is found to have rabies, then that may also impact your potential recovery.

However, in most cases, if you are found to have been acting lawfully on a sidewalk then it is the dog owner, or his insurer, that will pay for your damages.

But First You Have to Take Action

Damages are not automatic. Instead, you will need to request damages from the insurance company and negotiate a settlement, or you will need to file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires.

For more information about protecting your rights after a dog bite injury in Iowa, we encourage you to contact an experienced dog bite lawyer today at 1-800-800-5678 or via our website. We also invite you to read our FREE dog bite brochure to learn more about your rights and possible recovery.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham