Dog Attacks: The One-Bite Rule in Louisiana

dog attackIf you’ve ever heard someone refer to the “one-bite rule” in reference to being bitten by a dog, you may have wondered what it was. It’s very simple.

The one-bite rule is related to establishing negligence in personal injury claims for dog bites. Owners can only be deemed negligent for a dog bite if they knew or had reason to know that their dog would bite someone. In other words, if a dog bites you or a loved one but had never bitten a person before, or acted in a threatening manner before, you may not be successful in pursuing a claim for negligence and personal injury.

If, on the other hand, a dog has bitten someone previously, and it bites you or a loved one, the owner may be found responsible for damages. According to the one-bite rule, once a dog has bitten someone, the owner must take steps to make sure that the dog cannot harm people. If the court finds that reasonable care to restrain the dog and protect people was not taken, and that failure was responsible for the injury, the owner is liable for damages.

Louisiana law on dog bites

Louisiana law uses the one-bite rule, but also has several other requirements for the owner to be found liable for damages.

  • First, the owner needs to have known or should have known that the dog was dangerous to people. This might include dangerous behavior other than biting, such as growling or striking at people.
  • Second, it needs to be a fact that any injury or damage could have been prevented had the owner taken reasonable care to prevent it. For example, putting a dog in a back yard with a fence surrounding it might be deemed reasonable care to avoid injury.
  • Third, the owner did not take sufficient care to prevent injury.
  • Fourth, the animal was not provoked by the person injured or other persons.

Louisiana law does not pertain only to bites, but to other injuries as well. If an animal knocks a child down and causes injury, for example, it falls under the “dog bite” statute.

The statute also covers animals other than dogs. If, for instance, a horse causes an injury to a person, it is covered by this statute.

Defenses against Louisiana dog bite law

The owner can use several defenses. The first is that the injured party or another party provoked the animal. If a dog is fenced in, for example, and neighborhood teenagers are poking at it with a stick, resultant dog bites, occurring through the fence or as a result of a dog jumping the fence, might be considered the result of provocation.

The second is comparative negligence. An owner could argue that the injured party bears part of the blame. If neighbors cut across a backyard despite “Beware of Dog” signs prominently displayed, it can be argued that they were partially to blame for being attacked by a dog. Any monetary damages, if that argument is successful, are reduced by the percentage the court finds the plaintiff at fault.

Need a dog bite attorney?

If you have issues with a dog bite or other injury involving an animal, we can help. Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has offices for your convenience in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana.

For a free consultation with a Baton Rouge or Lafayette dog bite attorney, call today or contact us online.

Additional “Louisiana one bite law” resources:

  1. Dog Bites. WebMD.
  2. State of Louisiana, Department of Health and Hospitals. Center for Community and Preventive Health. Protocol for Animal Control and Law Enforcement Agencies Addressing Animal Bites and Potential Rabies Exposures. June 6, 2013.
  3. Louisiana Civil Code. Book III. Of the Different Modes of Acquiring the Ownership of Things. Title V. Obligations Arising Without Agreement. Chapter 3. Of Offenses and Quasi Offenses. Art. 2321. Damage caused by animals.



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