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Tina, Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 33167
Experience:  Personal Injury & Wrongful Death experience includes judgment for $10M & $3M settlement
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I am in utah. my dog bit someone at the park. This lady was

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I am in utah. my dog bit someone at the park. This lady was deathly afraid of dogs. my dog went to say hi which he does by going up and smelling people and sometimes jumping up to smell their hands. I believe she hit him away and he reacted. I just plead not guilty this morning and then looked up the utah laws. it seems we have a dog bite statute. so I am wondering if I have a chance here. he was on a leash we were at a public park. it didnt break the skin. she was bruised. she freaked out however and called an ambulance. they looked at her and sent her on her way. then she went to the emergency room and is charging me $600 for her visit. I offered on the spot to pay for a doctor visit. they left without my money and went to the emergency room anyway and are now suing me. any advice?

Hello and welcome.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX my goal is to provide you with excellent service today. I am sorry to hear of your difficult situation. Before I can give you an accurate answer to your question, please provide the following additional information:

What do you mean you pleaded "not guilty"? Are you being criminally prosecuted for the dog biting someone?

I look forward to assisting you as soon as I have received this information. Thank you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

yes when the people decided to pursue compensation they had an animal control officer visit me a few days later who issued me a class A misdemeanor citation with a court date attached. court was today. the city offered me a deal for a guilty plea. $600.00 and case closed but I have a misdemeanor on my record. or not guilty and a court date later. I pleaded not guilty and now have a date set for july

I see. With regard to civil liability, UT does have a strict liability statute, meaning that you would typically be liable for damages sustained by the individual who was bit. The statute does not allow for any defense unless you were not the owner/keeper of the dog or it was acting in the scope of its duties as a police dog unfortunately.

Therefore, you would normally be liable for damages I'm afraid, but I would need to see the criminal code citation that you were alleged to have violated to determine whether there may be any defenses to that. Do you have that available?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

my paperwork doesnt show any king of criminal code....but I found this from a local attorneys page:

Liability Statute

Every person that owns or keeps a dog is liable for damages caused by the dog. The plaintiff is not required to prove that the dog was vicious or mischievous or that the owner or keeper knew of its propensities. The amount of liability is determined by comparative fault. Therefore, any fault on the part of the injured person may reduce the amount of damages awarded.



So according to comparative fault if I can show she was negligent or provoked the dog in any way then she could bear some of the fault and some of the cost. this is what I am trying to do. I feel bad and dont mind helping them with doctor bills but $600 for an emergency room visit during doctor hours when the skin wasnt broken seems a bit much to me. also I watched her provoke and be negligent to two other dogs the same as mine while we waited for an ambulance to arrive. She was lucky she wasnt bit again by another dog while we waited there.


im trying to figure out what the best way of showing comparative fault in this situation

Hello again, Mike.

UT actually has a strict liability statute, meaning there are no defenses unless set out in the statute or you do are not an owner/keeper of the animal as defined in the statute. Here is the complete section of the statute which would apply typically:

Statute in Full:

§ 18-1-1. Liability of owners--Scienter--Dogs used in law enforcement

(1) Every person owning or keeping a dog is liable in damages for injury committed by the dog, and it is not necessary in the action brought therefor to allege or prove that the dog was of a vicious or mischievous disposition or that the owner or keeper of the dog knew that it was vicious or mischievous .

(2) Notwithstanding Subsection (1), neither the state nor any county, city, or town in the state nor any peace officer employed by any of them shall be liable in damages for injury committed by a dog , if:

(a) the dog has been trained to assist in law enforcement ; and

(b) the injury occurs while the dog is reasonably and carefully being used in the apprehension, arrest, or location of a suspected offender or in maintaining or controlling the public order.


This means there is no comparative fault analysis normally, although the law does permit an injured party to sue under a negligence theory of law. If that is what the plaintiff here has alleged--negligence rather than strict liability, then their actions could be taken into account in determining or apportioning liability.


If the victim here did hit your dog, that would typically constitute evidence which would support an argument that they acted negligently and some fault should be apportioned to them.


Here is a link to the strict liability statute, which would normally be cited by a plaintiff in a civil case though, and it does not provide for any comparative negligence analysis:

I hope this helps clarify the situation for you. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need so I will be compensated for my time from the deposit you posted with this website. If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Thank you!


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I didn't know any of this before hand going in to court today and thought I might have a good case. I plead not guilty and rejected the offer from the city for $600. can I still get in contact with prosecution and take the offer or do I have to go to court in a month now? If I lose, which it sounds like I will in utah, I will end up paying court fees and attorney fees and possibly more of a fine. I would rather not deal with any of it and pay the $600 knowing what I know now. Is this possible to change my plea to guilty now?

Hello again, Mike.

Yes, it should be possible if you contact the prosecutor and tell them you wish to accept the plea deal and plead guilty. If you cannot get in touch with the prosecutor before the hearing date, then you could also appear for the hearing and inform the prosecutor then that you wish to change your plea and accept the deal, but it is preferable to contact them now if at all possible.

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