A dog bite victim in Louisiana can recover compensation under a special statute and the doctrines of negligence, negligence per se, scienter, and intentional tort. There is an unusual element in the dog bite statute: Louisiana is a strict liability state provided that the owner could have prevented the injuries.

Overview

The State of Louisiana has a dog bite statute that requires a dog bite victim to prove that the incident was one which the dog owner could have prevented. The statute is Louisiana Civil Code article 2321:

The owner of an animal is answerable for the damage caused by the animal. However, he is answerable for the damage only upon a showing that he knew or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known that his animal's behavior would cause damage, that the damage could have been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that he failed to exercise such reasonable care. Nonetheless, the owner of a dog is strictly liable for damages for injuries to persons or property caused by the dog and which the owner could have prevented and which did not result from the injured person's provocation of the dog. Nothing in this Article shall preclude the court from the application of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur in an appropriate case.

The statute refers to an incident "which the owner could have prevented." This phrase is not found in the more straightforward dog bite statutes. As a result of this particular language, the Supreme Court of Louisiana held that a dog bite victim is required to prove that the dog posed an unreasonable risk of harm, in addition to the facts that must be proved in the more common dog bite statutes (i.e., that the defendant was the owner of the dog, the dog caused harm to the plaintiff, and the extent of loss to the plaintiff). Pepper v. Triplet, 864 So.2d 181 (La. 2004).

A person who is injured by a dog in Louisiana also may use the other common grounds for liability. They are scienter, negligence, and negligence per se. For further information about these causes of action, see Legal Rights of Dog Bite Victims in the USA.

 

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