Oregon Dog Bite Law Creates Liability for Medical Expenses
Oregon law ORS 31.360 makes it easy to prove that a dog owner is liable for the medical expenses and other economic damages when their animal injures a person.
All you have to prove is that the dog owner did not use reasonable care to control or confine their dog. You don’t have to prove that they knew (or should have known) that the dog would cause you physical injuries.
The One Bite Rule in Oregon
The State of Oregon subscribes to the rule of strict liability for domestic animals. Therefore, any Oregon dog owner who knows (or has reason to believe) their animal to be “abnormally dangerous” is liable when that dog injures someone. This is also known as the “One Bite Rule”.
Once a dog bites or attacks someone, the owner is presumed to know that their dog is abnormally dangerous. This can also be used as grounds to prove the level of an animal’s aggressiveness. Some dogs are presumed to be abnormally dangerous based on their breed alone. Pit bulls and Rottweilers are the two most deadly dog breeds in America.
Proving Dog Owner Negligence
If you cannot prove that a dog is abnormally dangerous, you may still be able to show that the dog owner or possessor was negligent.
Do do so, you must demonstrate that they knew (or should have known) their dog would injure you. This includes showing that they failed to control or confine their dog, and therefore failed to use reasonable care.
If the owner of the dog allowed their animal to be “at large” in violation of the regulations, the law calls this negligence per se. It means the dog owner was negligent and is liable for your medical bills – as well as compensation for pain and suffering – unless they can prove otherwise, ie that they were acting with reasonable care under the circumstances.
Differing Oregon City and County Municipal Regulations for “At Large” Dogs
Many Oregon cities and counties have municipal regulations, requiring owners to keep their dogs from being “at large”.
However, the definition of “dog at large” frequently differs from city to city, and county to county. Within Bend, Madras, Redmond and Sisters, a dog is “at large” if it is not leashed, bridled or confined within a vehicle.
For the exact definitions, you can read up on the codes right here:
Outside the city limits of Deschutes County, a dog is not deemed to be “at large” so long as it’s under the complete control of the dog’s owner or another capable person. This is true, even if the dog is not leashed, bridled or otherwise confined. The City of Prineville has a similar regulation.
Due to the variances in municipal codes then, if you’ve been injured by a dog, it’s important for you to find out exactly where the dog bite or attack took place.