Every year, 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). While Hawaii is not among one of the top 10 most dangerous states for dog bites, it is unclear how often dog-related injuries go unreported across the islands.
If you have suffered an injury as a result of a dog bite, a Hawaii dog bite lawyer at the Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will evaluate your case and review your options. Hawaii’s liability laws regarding dog bites can be complicated, and you might want an advocate who will fight to protect your rights and seek justice on your behalf.
To schedule your free consultation, call our offices today at (800) 816-0755.
Hawaii Dog Responsibility Laws
Hawaii Revised Statute § 663-9 directly addresses the liability of pet owners: If an animal causes damage to a person or their property, the animal’s owner or harborer is liable for their injuries. In the case of the owner knowing that the dog has been vicious in the past, they would be strictly liable. Hawaii Revised Statutes § 663-9.1 exempts injuries to trespassers, those who have abused the dog, or other cases in which the dog was provoked.
In many states, dogs are allowed to bite once before the owner can be held liable for the victim’s injuries. At first blush, this statute seems to discard the requirement that the owner had to know of the dog’s former viciousness for litigation.
However, the Hawaii Court of Appeals ruled that the law does not create strict liability, which means a defendant is responsible regardless of their intent or knowledge. Thus, under this statute, the victim of a dog bite injury must still prove the negligence of the owner in order for them to be liable for their injuries.
The second part of the statute, meanwhile, does not apply. The legislature deems dogs “not generally of a known vicious nature.”
There are generally four elements that you have to prove in order to show that the dog owner was negligent:
- A duty or obligation requiring the defendant to conform to a certain standard of conduct, for the protection of others against unreasonable risks.
- A failure on the defendant’s part to conform to the standard required: a breach of the duty.
- A reasonably close causal connection between the conduct and the resulting injury.
- Actual loss or damage to the interests of another.
Knowledge of a previous attack makes proving negligence easier in dog bite cases. However, it is not the only way to do so. Actions that are demonstrably imprudent or unreasonable may rise to that standard. Violations of local ordinances may be used as evidence to support negligence claims, as well.
Maui County, for example, requires that most dogs be kept “under restraint” and “shall not be allow[ed] to cause a nuisance.” It forbids dog owners from “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently” permitting a dog to “attack a person, causing bodily injury to the person.”
Honolulu County prohibits dog owners from allowing their dogs to become strays and makes it a crime to “negligently [fail] to take reasonable measures to prevent the dog from attacking, without provocation, a person or animal” if that attack leads to a person’s bodily injury or an animal’s maiming or death.
In these jurisdictions, violations of the law will help you make a case for negligence.
If you have questions about whether negligence applies in your case, a Hawaii dog bite lawyer at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm might be able to help. Call us today for a free consultation.
The state places no limits on the amount of economic damages you may recover in personal injury cases. These include medical expenses, the loss or impairment of earning capacity, and other tangible costs that stem from the attack.
Noneconomic damages, as defined by Hawaii Revised Statutes § 663-8.5, include “pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and all other nonpecuniary losses or claims.” Hawaii Revised Statutes § 663-8.7 caps the pain and suffering portion in most personal injury cases at $375,000.
As described in Hawaii Revised Statutes § 663-31, Hawaii uses a “comparative negligence” standard. This means that “any damages allowed shall be diminished in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person for whose injury, damage or death recovery is made.” In other words, if you are deemed 20% at fault for the dog bite, your award will be reduced by 20%.
Statute of Limitations
Sometimes, dog bite cases are resolved through claims filed with the owner’s homeowner’s or business insurance company. According to the III, most policies carry between $100,000 and $300,000 in liability coverage, though the average dog bite claim usually ends up at about $44,000. If your case does end up going to court in Hawaii, Hawaii Revised Statutes § 657-7 allows you just two years from the date of the bite to file a lawsuit.
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Can Help
In some situations, the investigation into your case might involve tracking down the owner of a stray dog that bit you. In Hawaii, it can also be difficult to establish a dog owner’s negligence.
No matter the circumstances, rest assured that the dog bite lawyers from Pintas & Mullins Law Firm never shy away from tough cases. We also work on a contingency basis, which means we do not get paid unless and until we recover compensation on your behalf.
To see if a Hawaii dog bite lawyer can help you with your case, call our offices today at (800) 816-0755.