Dog Bite Lawsuits and Punitive Damages

Dog bite lawsuits and punitive damages also known as exemplary damages may be appropriate in certain dog bite lawsuits.In pleading this allegation it should be fact specific for maliciousness, oppression and fraud. By way of example of how not to plead punitive damages you simple would not allege that a culprit dog is vicious and its owner had knowledge of its viciousness. Nor will it suffice to allege that the biting dog is a pit bull and is vicious and its owner had knowledge of its viciousness.

You may plead the dog’s breed if known and it is a particularly large dog or its breed if it is known as an aggressive breed, but you will still have to plead specific facts that show maliciousness, oppression and fraud. Now there is not any specific formula in a dog bite lawsuit for pleading punitive damages.

Here are some facts which may be appropriate for pleading punitive damages in dog bite lawsuits. Such facts if they exist should be pled together. The more facts you pled which show maliciousness the more likely the court will allow a claim for punitive damages.

  • The number of times before the dog bite attack or after the dog bite that the dog has attacked or bitten a person or animal
  • The conduct of the dog owner, keeper, or harborer. An example of conduct here is a dog owner’s command to his dog to attack a person without cause
  • Whether the dog was tied up or off leash and how it is kept including shelter, water and food
  • The breed of the dog
  • The severity of the injury and cost of incurred and future medical bills.

The totality of the circumstance should be plead which shows the standard for punitive damages. It should be noted that the standards vary from state to state and here we are making general observations.

There also exist discovery rules which are specific to punitive damages which are different than proving compensatory damages.

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Bruce Thabit is the owner of DogBite.org and has counseled numerous dog bite victims and their families. A recognized authority on dog bite law. A skilled, knowledgeable, experienced civil litigator since 1988. Call toll free number for free consult: Telephone: 1-844-444-0449. info@dogbite.org
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