Dog Bite Laws & Owner Liability in Wisconsin

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on March 22, 2017 in Dog Bites
Updated on February 24, 2022

barking dogWhen a dog bites or injures a person in Wisconsin, there are specific laws that outline who is responsible for the incident.

Dog Owner Liability

Wisconsin’s dog bite law hold a dog owner liable for all damages his or her dog causes to a person, another domesticated animal or livestock. The statute establishes a rule of strict liability, which allows a dog owner to be held liable even if he or she took reasonable care to restrain the dog and tried to prevent the attack.

If the owner knew that the dog had a history of biting people, the owner will be liable for twice the amount of total damages.

However, it is important to note that a victim can be partially liable for an attack if he or she was negligent leading up to the attack. This is called contributory negligence and may affect the amount of damages in your claim.

If the person is found to be more than 51 percent responsible for the dog attack, he or she cannot seek damages. This could include instances in which the victim provoked the dog.

If the victim is less than 51 percent liable for his or her injuries, the compensation awarded in the claim will be reduced by his or her percentage of fault.

An experienced dog bite lawyer can help you determine if you could be held partially liable for your injuries.

Applying Wisconsin’s Dog Bite Law

Wisconsin’s dog bite laws apply in all incidences in which a dog causes bodily harm, such as bites that puncture the skin or leave permanent physical damage and disfigurement.

The law also applies to situations in which a dog jumps onto a person and knocks him or her down. Even if the dog’s owner attempted to restrain it, he or she is still liable for the damage the dog causes.

The only exception to Wisconsin’s dog bite laws is extended to dogs used by law enforcement agencies, which are not liable if a dog injures a criminal suspect while performing its duty.

Statute of Limitations for Dog Bite Claims

Wisconsin has a three-year statute of limitations for injury claims concerning a dog bite or attack. The deadline begins on the date the injury occurred.

Those attempting to file a lawsuit against a dog’s owner must meet this deadline. If a claim is filed after the three-year limitation, it will be thrown out.

Criminal Liability for Dog Bites

Dog owners can face charges such as reckless endangerment or homicide for instances in which a dog causes serious injury or death.

Certain areas in Wisconsin also have breed restrictions for dogs and may impose criminal or civil penalties to the owner of a prohibited breed.

Criminal charges for dog attack cases differ from civil penalties in several ways. A civil claim for a dog attack is filed directly by the injured person, while criminal charges are filed by a prosecutor.

A civil claim also expresses liability for a dog attack in the terms of monetary compensation, while a criminal case would impose some form of punishment on the owner, such as imprisonment or fines.

Fines for Dog Attacks

The dog’s owner may be issued a fine between $50 and $2,500 if the dog injures a person, domestic animal or game animal.

If the dog injures another person or animal and the dog’s owner knew of a previous attack, he or she can be issued a fine between $200 and $5,000.

Punishment for Dogs with a History of Attacking Others

Wisconsin allows dogs to be euthanized if the animal has a history of aggression and causing harm to people or other domesticated animals.

Euthanizing a dog would require it to have caused serious injury while off the owner’s property on two or more occasions. The owner must have been aware of the first incident before the second occurred.

Experienced Dog Bite Lawyers in Milwaukee

Aggressive dogs that have a history of attacking people and other animals can leave victims with serious injuries and bodily disfigurement. Owners who neglect to restrain or separate a dangerous dog from the public should be held liable for the damage caused by the animal.

If you or someone you love has been injured by an aggressive dog, you will need an attorney with experience representing dog bite victims.

At PKSD, our attorneys work as a team to protect the rights of injury victims who were harmed because of another’s negligence. We can help you take legal action against a negligent dog owner and recover the compensation you deserve for your injury.

We only charge for our services if we recover damages on your behalf. Do not hesitate to contact us today for a free initial consultation to discuss your claim.

Call 877-877-2228 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form to get started now.

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