New Hampshire is a strict liability state.
- Litigation forms and other materials for attorneys
- If your case involves injury to a dog, see When a Dog Is Injured or Killed
The state of New Hampshire has a law pertaining to canine-inflicted injuries that is more favorable to victims than most other states. It covers any cause of damage by a dog, and applies to injuries to not only humans but also any form of property, including another dog or cat. The text of the statute is as follows:
466:19 Liability of Owner or Keeper. – 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.
This statute makes a dog owner strictly liable for harm caused by a dog's "vicious or mischievous acts." Allgeyer v. Lincoln, 125 N.H. 503, 506 (1984). That act does not have to include a bite, but can be anything which causes injury, such as by frightening the victim and making him "flip" his bicycle. Bohan v. Ritzo, 141 N.H. 210, 218 (1996). "Nothing in the plain language of RSA 466:19 limits its application to situations where there is an actual bite or other direct physical contact." Bohan, supra.
If the statute does not apply, the victim can base his claim on the other legal theories described in Legal Rights of Dog Bite Victims in the USA. For example, the scienter cause of action (i.e., keeping a dog despite knowing that it is vicious) can be used to establish a case even if the victim is a trespasser. The negligence cause of action can be used against a landlord who is aware of, but fails to do anything to abate, a vicious dog that routinely goes upon the common property at an apartment complex. These are but two examples of using legal grounds that are not covered in the dog bite statute.
New Hampshire is a state in which Attorney Kenneth Phillips, the author of Dog Bite Law, has worked with particularly outstanding attorneys. If you or your child were injured by a dog, Mr. Phillips would be happy to refer you to one of these exceptional lawyers. Click here to send E-mail to Mr. Phillips telling him some details of your case.