Monday, January 11, 2016

"Does Your Dog Bite?" Inspector Clouseau And Ohio Dog Bite Laws....

The "Pink Panther" series of movies has provided many laughs (and quotes) in The Wilson house over the years. An exchange from "The Pink Panther Strikes Again," is a repeat favorite, particularly when one of us is being accused of not doing something (usually a household chore):  

Clouseau: Does your dog bite?
Clouseau: [bowing down to pet the dog] Nice doggie.
[Dog barks and bites Clouseau in the hand]
Clouseau: I thought you said your dog did not bite!
Hotel Clerk: That is not my dog.

"Not my dog" has become code of sorts for "that wasn't my mess to clean up" (usually not a defense but still funny....). 

That exchange does raise a legal question: does your dog have to bite or physically attack a person under Ohio law in order for you as an owner to be liable for the injuries Fido causes?

Not at all. Ohio has one of the more expansive dog liability statutes in the U.S. Basically, if your dog (1) chases; or (2) approaches in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of an attack; or (3) attempts to bite; or (4) endangers a person and causes injury, you are liable if you own, keep, or harbor the dog. 

There are limited exceptions to this blanket rule of liability: if the injured person was (1) criminally trespassing or committing a crime on the property; or (2) teasing, tormenting, or abusing the dog on the owner's/keeper's property.

This law covers a variety of situations other than a classic "dog bite." For example, if the dog rushes onto another person's property and causes someone to trip or fall, you as a dog owner are liable. Similarly, it covers situations where joggers, walkers, or bicyclists are chased by dogs and sustain injury in the process.

The message from Ohio's dog bite law is clear: You as a responsible pet owner need to keep your dog under control, restrained, and not roaming all over the place, or you will be held accountable for the harm caused. 

So, if Inspector Clouseau were to ask "Does your dog bite?" in Ohio, the correct response would be: "Does not have to." Despite this, all mail carriers, UPS, and Fed Ex drivers should still have the mace handy just in case....   


Saturday, January 2, 2016

What Should I Expect At My First Meeting With You?

By Brian R. Wilson, Esq.

It was a very good question and not one I have been asked often. But it was easily answerable. "It's pretty simple. You do most of the talking. I do most of the listening, though I may ask a few questions. I'll let you know what your best course of action should be and we'll go from there."

For an auto or motorcycle case, the initial client meeting lasts approximately one hour. Naturally, there is no charge for the meeting, but I have to laugh at how many attorneys/firms tout a "free consultation" as some great selling point.

News flash. Everyone offers it. It's about as big of a deal as a free straw with a drink purchase. What IS a big deal, and makes us a bit different, is that you are not obligated to sign any sort of fee arrangement or contract at the initial meeting. In fact, it is discouraged, and for good reason.

You should be given the time to take a proposed agreement home, look it over, talk it over with your loved ones or friends, and even talk to another attorney or firm in the interim.

The last thing any car or motorcycle accident victim needs is a "high pressure lawyer come on" after dealing with (_____________slow, stingy, annoying, aggressive or fill in other appropriate adjective here) insurance companies, and being bombarded with lawyer and chiropractor materials or pitches which blow up your phone or land on your doorstep.

The right personal injury attorney to help you with and through your journey is worth waiting for.