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Wisconsin Stat. § 174.02, commonly known as the “dog bite statute,” provides that “the owner of a dog is liable for the full amount of damages caused by the dog injuring or causing injury to a person.” A dog owner includes any person who owns, harbors, or keeps a dog. If the dog has seriously bitten another person in the past so as to break the skin and cause permanent scaring or disfigurement, damages for the bite will be doubled.
Section 174.02 is a strict liability statute, which means that liability for a dog bite, or other injuries caused by a dog, will be imposed even if the dog’s owner or keeper was not negligent. Although the provision generally applies to dog bites, it can also apply to other situations in which a dog injures a person. For example, a dog owner can be held strictly liable when their escaped dog causes an automobile or bicycle accident.
The purpose of the dog bite statute is to protect people who are not in a position to control the dog. Because of this provision, dog owners must be extremely careful to properly control their dogs. Bye, Goff & Rohde, Ltd., your Wisconsin Personal Injury Lawyers, can assist you if you have been bitten or otherwise injured by a dog.