Dog Bite Statutes

Each state has its regulations and laws concerning Man's Best Friend and what happens when the dog bites, injures, or damages a person or property. Adjusters should be aware of their state’s particular statute.

 

Scroll to the bottom of the chart for more information. 

This chart is current as of the date I wrote it, but adjusters should be familiar with their state’s rules. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the list. Because laws and regulations can change without notice, an attorney should be contacted if there are any questions regarding this chart. These materials are provided for informational and educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice or legal opinions because I am not an attorney.

State
Applicable Statute(s)
Breed Restrictions
Alabama
Ala. Code § 3-1-3; 3-6-1; 11-47-110
No
Alaska
AS § 03.55.010 – .070; 11 AAC 12.130
No
Arizona
A.R.S. §§ 11- 1001, 11-1012, 11-1025,11-1026, 11-1027
No
Arkansas
A.C.A.§ 20-19-102; 20-19-310; 20-19-408
Unk.
California
Cal. Civ. Code § 3342 Ann. Ca. Health & Safety Code 122331 Ann. Cal. Food & Agric. Code 31602, 30954
No
Colorado
C.R.S.A. § 13-21-124; 18-9-204.5; 25-4-610
Unk.
Connecticut
C.G.S.A. § 22-357; 22-364
Unk.
Delaware
16 Del.C. § 3048F, 3051F, 3053F, 3076F, 3077F. formerly cited as 9 Del. C. 908, 911, 913, 925, 926
No, but there are restrictions for dangerous/potentially dangerous dogs as defined
District of Columbia
DC ST § 1-303.41; DC Code  8-1901; 8-1902; 8-1906; 22-1311
No
Florida
FL ST § 767.04; 767.14
No, but local government can put further restrictions on dogs, but the restrictions cannot be breed specific.
Georgia
Ga. Code Ann., § 4-8-25 thru 4-8-30; 51-2-7
No, but local governments can enact ordinances that are more restrictive than annotated codes.
Hawaii
HRS § 142-75; 143-14; 663-9; 663-9.1
Unk.
Idaho
I.C. § 18-5812B; 25-2801; 25-2805- 2810
No.
Illinois
510 ILCS5/2.05a; 5/2.17c; 5/2.19b; 5/13; 5/14; 5/16
Unk.
Indiana
IC 15-20-1-3
No, but the city and county can prohibit dogs from running at large and have restrictions for shots such as rabies.
Iowa
I.C.A. § 351.28; 351.40;351.41
Unk.
Kansas
KS ST § 47-645; 47-646; 21-6418
Unk.
Kentucky
KRS § 258.095; 258.235; 258.255; 258.265; 258.990
No.
Louisiana
LSA-R.S. 3:2731; 3:2651; 3:2652; 3:2771
Unk.
Maine
7 M.R.S.A. § 3901; 3907; 3948; 3952; 3961
Unk.
Maryland
MD Code, Criminal Law, § 10-619; Md. Code Ann., Local Gov’t § 13-105
No
Massachusetts
M.G.L.A. 131 § 82; 140 § 155; 140 § 159; 140 § 167; 140 § 174B;
No
Michigan
M.C.L.A. 91.1; 287.262; 287.321; 287.323; 287.351;
Unk.
Minnesota
M.S.A. § 347.14; 347.22; 347.50 thru 347.53
Unk.
Mississippi
Miss. Code Ann. §21-19-9; 41-53-11
No
Missouri
V.A.M.S. 79.400; 273.020; 273.030; 273.036; 273.100
No
Montana
MCA 7-23-102; 27-1-715; 81-7-402
Unk.
Nebraska
Neb.Rev.St. § 17-526; 54-601; 54-607; 54-608; 54-617; 54-618; 54-619; 54-624; NE LEGIS 1055 (2008)
No
Nevada
N.R.S. 202.500; 503.636; 575.020
Unk.
New Hampshire
N.H. Rev. Stat. § 466:19; 466.29; 466:31; 466.33
Unk.
New Jersey
N.J.S.A. 4:19-16; 4:19-22; 4:19-23; 40:48-1
Unk.
New Mexico
N.M.S.A. § 77-1A-5; 6; 2
No
New York
N.Y. Agric. & Mkts. Law § 108; 121; 122; 123 (McKinney) Envtl. Conserv. Law § 11-0923 (McKinney)
Unk.
North Carolina
N.C. Gen Stat. Ann. § 67-4.1 thru 67-4.5; 67-12
No
North Dakota
NDCC 40-05-01; 42-03-01; 42-01-08
No
Ohio
R.C. § 955.22; 955.221; 955.26; 955.28
Unk.
Oklahoma
4 Okl.St. § 42.1; 43 thru 46
Unk.
Oregon
O.R.S. § 609.035; 609.060; 609.095; 609.098; 609.115; 609.140; 609.990
Unk.
Pennsylvania
3 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 459-301; 459-304; 459-305; 459-502-A; 459-503-A; 7 Pa. Code § 27.12
Unk.
Rhode Island
4 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 4-13-15.1; 4-13.1-2; 1-4; 1-7;
Unk.
South Carolina
S.C. Code Ann. § 47-3-50; 47-3-110; 47-3-710; 47-3-720; 51-3-145
Unk.
South Dakota
S.D. Codified Laws §40-34-2; 40-34-14; 40-34-15
No
Tennessee
T.C.A. § 44-8-408; 44-8-413
Unk.
Texas
Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 822.007; 822.012; 822.031; 822.041; 822.042; 822.047
Unk.
Utah
U.C.A. § 18-1-1; 18-1-4; 18-2-101; 26-6-11
No
Vermont
20 V.S.A. 3546;3549
No
Virginia
2VAC 5-620-70; 20; 90; Va. Code Ann. § 3.2-6540; 3.2-6540.1; 3.2-6542; 3.2-6522; 3.2-6539
Unk.
Washington
R.C.W.A 16.08.030; 16.08.040; 16.08.060; 16.08.070; 16.08.080; 35.27.370
Unk.
West Virginia
W. Va. Code, § 5A-4-4; 19-9-18; 19-20-13; 19-20-14; 19-20-21; 19-20A-8;
No
Wisconsin
W.S.A. 174.02; 174.042
Unk.
Wyoming
W.S. 1977 § 11-31-105; 11-31-301
Unk.

Alabama

The owner has a responsibility to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises in several instances: from an unprovoked dog bite; if the dog chases the person from property; if the owner keeps dangerous animals and allows them to run free or they escape; if the escaped or freed animal injures the person through no fault of the person.

 

Alaska

Owner liability is not discussed, but unincorporated villages can enact their own dog control regulations. The dog may be killed if the dog worries livestock, but if the owner of the dog is known, that owner has the opportunity to restrain the dog before it is lawfully put down.

 

Arizona

The owner has a responsibility to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, whether public or private property. Police or military dogs may have certain exceptions. The owner may have a defense if provocation is proved.

 

Arkansas

The owner has a responsibility to ensure the dog has rabies shot, properly fed, and be able to provide proof of health. The dog's owner may be liable if the dog harms domesticated farm animals. Hybrids of wolf-dogs may be restricted.

 

California

The owner has a responsibility to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, whether public or private property. Police or military dogs may have certain exceptions. California only allows breed-specific or mixed-breed specific ordinances regarding spay/neuter programs and breeding requirements.

 

Colorado

The owner has a responsibility to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, whether public or private property, regardless of the propensities of the dog or the owner's knowledge of same. However, if the person is trespassing, provokes the dog, the owner is peace officer/military, victim is vet health care worker, groomer, humane agency staff, trainer or show judge in their duties, or dog is working as hunting, farm, predator control dog, the owner would not be liable.

 

Connecticut

The owner has a responsibility to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, unless the person was trespassing or provoking the dog. Children under 7 years old are assumed to not be trespassing or provoking unless it can be proven. Household members of law enforcement assigned dogs are not liable unless they are the keeper of the dog.

 

Delaware

The owner has a responsibility to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, unless the person was trespassing, provoking the dog, or committing a criminal offense against the owner. Any person, police, or animal control can kill the dog if deemed to be an immediate threat to the public or to protect farm animals. Owners of female dogs face a monetary fine for allowing her to run free while in heat. Owners of dangerous dog must spay/neuter them and have minimum liability coverage of $100,000 for injuries by dog.

 

District of Columbia

Dangerous dogs must be licensed and registered. There are strict insurance requirements for potentially dangerous dogs with monetary fines and imprisonment. Dangerous dogs can be registered once certain conditions are met, such as shots, enclosure, and liability policy.

 

Florida

The owner has a responsibility to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, whether public or private property. The claimant's negligence will reduce liability of the owner. The owner may reduce his negligence by having an easily readable sign which states "Bad Dog." He is not liable for anyone over six years of age unless he is negligent at the time of the occurrence.

 

Georgia

The owner has a responsibility for a person's death/injury due to a dangerous dog if the dog was unprovoked by the person. The owner must have a warning sign, register, and confine the dog. The dog must be muzzled if outside the proper enclosure. The owner must have a minimum of $50,000 liability insurance for injuries from the dog.

 

Hawaii

Owner is strictly liable if it is known the dog is dangerous either by its nature, because it is wild, or because of its species. The owner is responsible for injury or damage regardless of the owner's lack of knowledge of the dog's propensities. If the dog has bitten someone, the owner shall take steps that it not reoccur. There is no liability if the claimant was trespassing or provoking the dog.

 

Idaho

The owner must license, tag, and have a collar for the dog. Dangerous dogs must be in an enclosure or restrained by a chain sufficient to control the dog. The owner is responsible if the dog kills or wounds farm animals.

 

Illinois

The owner has a responsibility to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises and the dog is unprovoked.

 

Indiana

The owner has a responsibility to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, carrying out a duty imposed by law or US postal regulations. The owner is responsible even if he did not know of the dog's propensities or prior behavior.

 

Iowa

Owner is responsible when dog bothers, maims, or kills domestic animals, attacks, or attempts to bite a human unless the person is committing a crime which causes the injury. Owner is not liable when the dog is affected with hydrophobia and the owner is unaware. The city or county may limit the ability of the dog to roam at large and have restrictions for shots such as rabies.

 

Kansas

Owner is responsible when dog bothers, maims, or kills domestic animals. A claimant may kill a dog which injures or attempts to injury livestock. Allowing a dangerous dog to roam free can be a misdemeanor.

 

Kentucky

Owner is responsible when dog bothers, maims, or kills domestic animals, attacks, or attempts to bite a person; owner is responsible for medical invoices due to dog bites. Owner is responsible for not violating any local nuisance regulations. Dangerous dogs must be in a locked enclosure with walls at least 7 ft. in height. It may only leave the enclosure to visit the vet, to be surrendered to an animal shelter, and it is to be muzzled if it leaves the enclosure.

 

Louisiana

The owner is strictly liable to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, whether public or private property, if the owner could have prevented the loss which was not provoked by the claimant. Owner is responsible when dog bothers, maims, or kills domestic animals, and the owner is liable for the damages. Cities and parishes may enact regulations for dogs roaming free.

 

Maine

Dangerous dogs must be kept indoors or in a secured and locked enclosure. The dog must be muzzled and on a tether no more than 3 feet long. Owners must adhere to a strict set of rules such as warranting providing photos of dog, tattoo, and microchip the dog. Owning or keeping a dangerous dog is a civil violation. It is recommended adjusters review the codes for all the specifics. This does not list all of the regulations.

 

Maryland

Dangerous dogs must be kept indoors or in a secured and locked enclosure. The dog is not allowed to leave the property unless the dog is leashed and muzzled. Counties may establish their own regulations regarding livestock injured/damaged by a dog.

 

Massachusetts

The owner has a responsibility to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, unless the person was trespassing or provoking the dog. Children under 7 years old are assumed to not be trespassing or provoking unless it can be proven. The owner can be liable for treble damages if the police or district court have ordered the dog to be restrained and the dog injures a person or livestock. City may enact additional bylaws relative to the regulation of dogs.

 

Michigan

The owner is responsible to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, whether public or private property, regardless of the propensities of the dog or the owner's knowledge of same. The owner may be guilty of a felony or misdemeanor depending on the level of injury with punishment of monetary fines, imprisonment, or community service.

 

Minnesota

The owner is responsible to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises. This includes a person who keeps the dog but is not the owner. Dangerous dogs must be registered and microchipped. It should be muzzled if it is off premises and on a chain or leash. The owner has a secured enclosure with posting there is a dangerous dog on the premises. The owner needs a minimum $300,000 surety bond.

 

Mississippi

Dogs roaming at large and without tags may be killed after 5 days by sheriff or police officer.

 

Missouri

The owner is strictly liable to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, whether public or private property, regardless of the propensities of the dog or the owner's knowledge of same. Owner is responsible when dog bothers, maims, or kills domestic animals, and the owner is liable for the damages. The claimant's percentage of fault will contribute to settlement. If the dog is roaming at large, it may be impounded.

 

Montana

The owner is responsible to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, whether public or private property, regardless of the propensities of the dog or the owner's knowledge of same. The owner is liable for the actual value of farm animals the dog injures or damages.

 

Nebraska

Owner is responsible for any injury or damage caused by the dog except if the person is trespassing or if the dog injures/damages livestock. Dangerous dogs must be spayed/neutered and microchipped. The dog must be confined indoors or in a secured enclosure if the owner is not home; this structure must be ten feet from property lines. Warning signs at least 10 inches x 12 inches must be posted.

 

Nevada

Owner responsible for injury/damages to farm animals caused by a free roaming dog. Owner may be guilty of a misdemeanor if he allows the dog to roam free. The dog may not be found dangerous based solely on breed.

 

New Hampshire

Owner responsible for injury/damages to farm animals caused by a free roaming dog. Owner is not liable if the dog was provoked.

 

New Jersey

The owner is responsible to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, whether public or private property, regardless of the propensities of the dog or the owner's knowledge of same.

 

New Mexico

Owner is responsible for any injury or damage caused by the dog to livestock. It is against the law to keep the dog after it has killed livestock which may result in criminal charges ranging from misdemeanor to 3rd degree felony. The dog must be registered, licensed, spayed/neutered, and microchipped. It must receive socialization and behavior training. Warning sign must be posted on premises where dog is kept.

 

New York

Owner is responsible for any injury or damage caused by the dog except if the person is trespassing, provoking the dog or its offspring, threatening farm animals, or committing a crime. If the owner through act or failure to act negligently allows the dog to bite a person or animal, the owner may receive a civil penalty. The owner is guilty of a misdemeanor and must pay medical expenses. The owner must have a minimum of $100,000 in liability for the dog bits. Dangerous dogs must be muzzled and restrained by someone over 21 when in public.

 

North Carolina

Owner is responsible for civil damages for any injuries/damages caused by the dog. If the person's medical invoices are in excess of $100 the owner is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. The dog must be confined indoors or in a secured enclosure if the owner is not home. The dog must be leashed and muzzled before leaving the property.

 

North Dakota

Dangerous dogs are not specifically addressed, but the owner may be responsible for a public nuisance when a dog continuously bothers people in a public place.

 

Ohio

Owner is responsible for any injury or damage caused by the dog except if the person is trespassing or if the person provoked the dog.  Cities and counties may enact further resolutions to control dogs.

 

Oklahoma

Owner is responsible for full amount of injury or damage caused by the dog except if the person is trespassing. The owner must have a minimum of $50,000 in liability for injuries caused by the dog. The dog must be registered and muzzled and restrained if off premises. The premises must have a warning sign stating there is a dangerous dog on property.

 

Oregon

Owner is responsible for any injury or damage caused by dog. If the dog has previously been determined to be dangerous, the owner is strictly liable. The owner may be liable for double the value of livestock if the dog kills or damages the livestock.

 

Pennsylvania

Dangerous dog must be registered and confined in a secured enclosure. A 'dangerous dog' tag must be worn on the collar at all times. If off property, the dog must be muzzled and on a leash, not longer than 3 feet and have a minimum tensile strength of 300 pounds. The premises must have warning signs a dangerous dog is present. The owner must have a minimum of $50,000 in liability insurance and $50,000 in a surety bond.

 

Rhode Island

Owner is responsible for all injuries and damages caused by the dog. Dangerous dog must be confined in a secured enclosure. If off property, the dog must be muzzled and on a leash, not longer than 3 feet and have a minimum tensile strength of 300 pounds. Cities may enact other ordinances regarding dogs.

 

South Carolina

The owner has a responsibility to a person for injuries when that person has a legal right to be on the premises, whether public or private property. There is no liability if the dog was provoked. The owner may receive monetary fines or jail time due to injury or damage caused by the dog. The dangerous dog is not allowed to roam free on the owner's premises. It must be indoors or in a secured enclosure or locked pen which is clearly marked to contain a dangerous dog.

 

South Dakota

Owner is responsible when dog bothers, maims, or kills domestic animals. No ordinances are allowed concerning a specific breed.

 

Tennessee

Owner is responsible for keeping the dog under reasonable control at all times and the duty applies regardless of the owner's knowledge of the dog's prior behavior. There is no liability if the dog is in an enclosure, is protecting its owner or another innocent person from attack, the person was trespassing, or the person was provoking the dog.

 

Texas

Dangerous dogs must be registered with animal control and restrained on a leash or in a secure enclosure. Owner must have liability insurance for a minimum of $100,000 to cover injury or damage from the dog. Owner must comply with all city or county regulations. The city or county may place additional restrictions on dangerous dogs as long as they are not specific to one or more breeds of dogs and are more stringent than those provided by statutes. 

 

Utah

Owner is strictly liable for damages by the dog. The claimant may submit medical invoices to a third party for arbitration. Municipality's may not enact specific breed ordinances.

 

Vermont

Owner is responsible when dog bothers, maims, or kills domestic animals, and the owner is liable for the damages. The municipality has the right to regulate leash and muzzle laws. If the dog bites someone without provocation, the municipality may order muzzling, confining, or destruction of the dog.

 

Virginia

Dangerous dogs must be registered and listed on the dangerous dog registry. Owners must adhere to a strict set of rules such as warranting all owners are over 18, name and address of owner, providing 2 photos of dog, information to locate the owners at all times, etc. It is recommended adjusters review the codes for all the specifics. This does not list all of the regulations.

 

Washington

Owner is responsible for dog's damages regardless of lack of knowledge. Dog must be kept in an enclosure with warning signs a dangerous dog is present. A surety bond is required or a liability policy for a minimum of $250,000 to pay for damages/injury caused by the dog. The owner has a complete defense if he can prove the dog was provoked.

 

West Virginia

Owner is responsible when dog bothers, maims, or kills domestic animals if the dog is out of its enclosure. Owner is responsible for the dog's damages if it is running at large. The dog must have a license from the county assessor and must be kept in a secure enclosure to prevent injury to a person lawfully on the property.

 

Wisconsin

Owner is responsible for any injury or damage caused by the dog. If the owner is aware of a previous injury/damage, the owner is liable for two times the amount of damages.

 

Wyoming

Owner is responsible when dog bothers, maims, or kills domestic animals.