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Dog Bite Laws in New Hampshire

smarling-dogNew Hampshire laws for dog bite injuries are one of the most favorable in the country for victims. Dog bites are common occurrences, resulting in more than 4 million incidents each year, therefore it is important to keep these dog bite laws in mind.

Statute of Limitations for Dog Bites in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit involving a dog bite is 3 years. A victim of a dog attack must file a case during the 3-year window of when the incident occurred in order to have a day in court.

Who is Responsible for Dog Bites in New Hampshire?

If a person is harmed by a dog, compensation and recovery for damages may be obtained from either the owner or the keeper of the dog, but not from both.

The single element required for the recovery of damages for injuries under the Dog Bite Statute is that the dog in question acted viciously or maliciously. The New Hampshire Courts have interpreted malicious or viscous acts by a dog to include some act beyond the mere presence of the dog. For example, if a person is frightened by the very presence of the dog, and reacts to that presence in such a fashion as to injure himself, a Court would most likely find that the dog did not act maliciously or viciously. On the other hand, a dog does not have to actually bite a person for its actions to be classified as malicious or vicious. A malicious act can be a dog running at a person, or onto the person’s property, which causes that person to fall or otherwise be injured, even if the dog never actually bit that person.

With strict liability laws in place, dog bite cases in NH are, more often than not, in favor of the victim, because the burden of proof is not that high. When a documented dog bite attack occurs the owner or keeper of the dog will be liable unless they can prove that the dog was provoked or the victim was trespassing. In New Hampshire’s dog bite statute, the owner/keeper of a dog is liable if:

Any person to whom or to whose property, including sheep, lambs, fowl, or other domestic creatures, damage may be occasioned by a dog not owned or kept by such person shall be entitled to recover damages from the person who owns, keeps, or possesses the dog, unless the damage was occasioned to a person who was engaged in the commission of a trespass or other tort. A parent or guardian shall be liable under this section if the owner or keeper of the dog is a minor. 

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

It’s important to remember that in order to file a personal injury lawsuit, a victim needs to prove the defendant is in fact the owner or keeper of the dog to receive compensation. Even if the dog was on the owner’s property and the victim tried to escape, causing injuries, the owner will be considered negligent if taken to court.

Thanks to dog restraint laws in New Hampshire, it’s much harder to prove a victim’s negligence than it is to prove an owners liability. For example, if the victim provoked the defendant’s dog by running on the sidewalk, then he/she cannot be found negligent, even though provoking a dog is one of the only circumstances in which a defendant may have a case.

Proving negligence is much harder to determine because of its complexities, meaning that you must be able to prove 4 essential features in order to win your case. Knowing that might make it a little easier to understand why New Hampshire is a strict liability state when it comes to personal injury protection, and why it is important to have a lawyer that understands your rights.


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