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'Beware of dog' signs have a complicated role in court

You were bitten by a dog. You were out for a run and you had to duck through someone's yard to avoid a car parked on the sidewalk. The dog darted out and bit you as you went through.

You want to recover damages for your injury, but there was a 'Beware of Dog' sign on the property. Can you still sue?

You can, and the way the sign factors in can be complicated. It can be used to support your case or to support the property owner.

In some cases, the court wants to see that the owner already knew the dog was dangerous or had "vicious propensities." This just means the owner knew the dog was likely to bite. You can argue that, with that knowledge, the owner should have done far more to protect the public from a clear and known hazard. The sign actually helps you because it shows that the owner understood the danger all along.

On the other hand, the owner can argue that the sign was there to keep you out of the yard. If you went past it, you "assumed the risk of injury." In short, you also knew the dog was dangerous and yet you went close to it anyway. The owner may argue that he or she can't control your actions and you're at fault for putting yourself in danger.

As you can see, these cases aren't always as clear-cut as you'd assume. If you'd like to learn more about your legal options following a bite, our website has a lot of useful information.

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