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RI Dog Bite Law: Strict Liability for Dogs Outside of Enclosure!

The old adage that “every dog gets one free bite” does not apply in Rhode Island (RI) when a dog causes injury outside of its enclosure.  Rhode Island has a strict liability rule for dog caused injuries outside of the dog’s enclosure.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court stated “Strict liability attaches for any injury occurring outside the dog’s enclosure.”  “Therefore, the dog-bite statute imposes strict liability in any circumstance wherein the dog is outside of its owner’s enclosure.” Johnston v. Poulin, 844 A.2d 707 (Rhode Isl. Sup. Ct., 2004).

§ 4-13-16  Action for damages to animals – Double damages on second recovery – Destruction of offending dog. – If any dog kills, wounds, worries, or assists in killing, wounding or worrying, any sheep, lamb, cattle, horse, hog, swine, fowl, or other domestic animal belonging to or in the possession of any person, or assaults, bites, or otherwise injures any person while traveling the highway or out of the enclosure of the owner or keeper of that dog, the owner or keeper of the dog shall be liable to the person aggrieved, for all damage sustained, to be recovered in a civil action, with costs of suit. If afterwards any such damage is done by that dog, the owner or keeper of the dog shall pay to the party aggrieved double the damage, to be recovered in the manner set forth and an order shall be made by the court before whom that second recovery is made, for killing the dog. The order shall be executed by the officer charged with the execution of the order, and it shall not be necessary, in order to sustain this action, to prove that the owner or keeper of the dog knew that the dog was accustomed to causing this damage.

Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.

 

 

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