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Who's Liable for Vicious Dog Attacks?
HUBER HEIGHTS -- A pit bull owner frantically called 911 after her pet attacked a utility worker in her backyard. The utility worker was hospitalized with serious injuries to her leg, but before charges are filed the question remains who is liable for the attack.
"If you own the dog, the dog hurt someone, you are responsible. It's that simple," said attorney Kevin Attkisson, who specializes in personal injuries and dog bites. Owner liability is the law in Ohio, except where tormenting, teasing or trespassing apply.
"There's several factors; is it fenced in, did they have a right to go in the yard, did they have an easement to go into the yard, to determine if it's not considered trespassing," Attkisson said.
"We try to stay out of the backyard where there's animals but especially if they're aggressive," said Vectren Field Technician Michael Stone.
"If there's loose animals I just get back in the truck and stay to see if they leave or not."
Stone says utility workers are trained in case of an animal attack.
"They say if we feel uncomfortable at all then we don't have to go in the backyard."
The pit bull's owner called 911 and also tried to call the dog so it would stop attacking.
If it's determined the victim was not tormenting, teasing or trespassing, the experts say the owner is liable for medical bills, injuries, pain and suffering, lost income from work, and the effect on the victims quality of life.
"Was the utility worker's actions reasonable under those circumstances," Attkisson said, "that question will be answered by a court, if necessary."
The company that employs the victim, UCIS, could not be reached for comment.
The dog's owner was unavailable to interview by deadline.
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