Dog Chases and Bicycle Accidents
Among the hazards faced by bicyclists are dogs who are left off leash or who have broken free of a leash or allowed to roam free by their owners. Most municipalities have leash laws requiring their dogs to be on a leash at all times except in designated areas.
Most states impose strict liability for injuries caused by dogs even if the dog does not directly attack you. In other jurisdictions, you still must show that the owner was aware that the dog had vicious tendencies, had attacked people before or had run loose in the past and chased bicyclists.
In a dog chase scenario, you may be riding in a suburban area when a dog suddenly appears and begins to chase you. If it is a large dog, this can cause panic, especially if it is trying to bite at your legs. Even a smaller dog can pose a risk of hitting your bike and causing you to lose control. Stopping your bicycle may not be an option since you have no idea if the animal will bite or attack you.
Even if you are able to get away from the dog, you may lose control of your bike, strike a hazard on the road or collide with a motor vehicle in your efforts to evade the dog. If injured, you may have a claim for compensation.
Compensation for Injury
Falling off your bicycle, striking a hazard in the roadway or colliding with a motor vehicle while being chased by a dog can lead to serious injuries. You could also be attacked by the dog while lying on the ground. While wearing a bike helmet can save your life or lessen your chance of sustaining a traumatic brain injury, you can still suffer injuries such as:
- Head injuries including skull fracture
- Facial fractures
- Other bone fractures
- Dental injuries
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Broken ribs
- Internal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries including paralysis
Dog owners may have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance that covers them for liability for injuries caused by an animal whom they own. If the dog was the responsibility of a dog walker and escaped from that person’s control, then you may have a claim against them as well. Most dog walkers are either bonded or have policies covering them in such situations.
If the dog broke free from a cage, you might explore whether the manufacturer of the cage negligently designed it so as to allow animals to escape from it. If the dog had injured someone before and the city had noticed that the animal was vicious but failed to take any action against the owner, you might have a claim against the municipality.
If the owner lacked homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, your only other recourse is to seek a judgment against the owner and explore what assets may be available including wage garnishment or seizure of bank account funds.