Can I still file a dog bite claim if I killed the dog during the attack?

In some instances of dog attacks, the victim attacked may kill the dog in self-defense. Killing a dog during a dog attack may leave the victim feeling badly for the dog in some cases, and also lead to legal questions about whether one could face criminal charges and how it affects their ability to recover compensation in a dog bite claim. If you’ve killed a dog in self-defense in Des Moines, here’s what you need to know about your legal rights.

Iowa Strict Liability Statute

When it comes to dog bite law in Iowa, the state has a strict liability statute. A strict liability statute means that in the case that a dog attacks another person, the owner of the dog is almost always liable. This law can be found in Iowa Code 351.28, which reads, “The owner of a dog shall be liable to an injured party for all damages done by the dog, when…the dog is acting or attempting to bite a person…” The exception to this law is in the case that the victim was doing an unlawful act, such as trespassing.

Iowa Self-Defense Laws for Dog Attacks

In most cases, killing a dog during a dog attack is justified if the action is in self-defense. According to Iowa Code Ann. Section 717B.2, a person is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor if he or she "intentionally injures, maims, disfigures, or destroys and animal owned by another person…" But this shall not apply if the "person is reasonably acting to protect a person from injury or death caused by an unconfined animal," which might be the case in a dog attack.

Do I have a personal injury case?

If you have killed a dog in self-defense, but sustained injuries before the death of the dog occurred, then you may still have a case for damages. The exception to this rule would be if, as noted above, you were committing an illegal action at the time of attack or if the dog had rabies and the dog owner was not aware of the dog's condition.

Assuming that you were not committing an illegal action, and the dog was not rabid, then the dog owner may be liable for injuries regardless of whether or not the dog was killed in self-defense.

Contact a Dog Bite Attorney if Injured in Des Moines

If you killed a dog in self-defense and are concerned about whether you can still recover damages that you suffered, get help from an attorney. The dog bite attorneys at Walker, Billingsley & Bair can walk you through your legal rights and help you exercise those rights to recover compensation. Call us today at 888-435-9886 to get started. 

Corey Walker
With 19 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.