Schedule a Free Consultation Today! | No Fees if No Recovery | Se Habla Español.

Des Moines Injury Lawyer

What happens when your dog bites someone in Iowa

At Des Moines Injury Law, we understand that owning a pet comes with great joy but also significant responsibilities. One of the most challenging situations a dog owner in Iowa can face is when their beloved pet bites or injures another individual. Navigating the legal landscape after such an incident is complex and fraught with pitfalls. Iowa laws hold dog owners strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets, regardless of the animal’s past behavior. Failing to understand your legal obligations and rights can lead to severe financial and legal repercussions, including civil lawsuits and even criminal charges in some cases. Our experienced team is here to guide you through every step of the legal process, ensuring you understand your options and helping to protect your interests.

A photo of a dog that is being held by their ownerWhat To Do After a Dog Bite

If you or someone you know has been bitten by a dog in Des Moines, IA, immediate action is crucial. First and foremost, seek medical attention as soon as possible to treat the injury and prevent infection. Secondly, document the incident by taking photos of the injury and gathering witness statements, if available. Contact animal control to report the incident and verify the dog’s vaccination history, which is essential in determining whether rabies treatment is necessary. It’s also advisable to consult an attorney experienced in dog bite cases to understand your rights and options. An attorney can guide you through the complexities of Iowa’s strict liability laws surrounding dog bites, and help you determine if you should file a claim for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress. Being proactive from the outset can significantly impact the outcome of your case.

Dog Bite Liability

Dog bite liability varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but in many places, including Iowa, the legal doctrine of “strict liability” often applies. This means that the dog owner is generally held responsible for any injuries their dog causes, regardless of whether the owner was aware of the dog’s propensity for aggression or whether the dog had bitten someone in the past. In some cases, there may be exceptions or defenses available, such as if the victim was trespassing, provoking the animal, or knowingly took the risk of being bitten. However, it is crucial for dog owners to understand that they are usually financially responsible for any harm their pet causes. This can include medical expenses, lost wages, and even emotional distress suffered by the victim. Given the potentially severe legal and financial ramifications, dog owners should consider liability insurance as a protective measure and always exercise due diligence in controlling and supervising their pets.

Types of Dog Bite Injuries

Dog bite injuries can vary widely in severity and can affect different parts of the body. Here are some common types of dog bite injuries:

Puncture Wounds

These are deep, narrow wounds produced by the canine’s sharp teeth. They are prone to bacterial infection and may require antibiotics.


These are tears in the skin that can be irregular and jagged. They often require stitches and are at risk for infection.


These are superficial injuries that scrape off the top layer of skin, similar to a rug burn.

Crush Injuries

These occur when the force of the dog’s bite compresses the tissue, potentially damaging underlying muscles, tendons, and even bones.


In severe cases, the force exerted by a dog’s jaw can break bones, particularly in smaller victims like children or smaller animals.


This is a severe form of laceration where a chunk of skin or flesh is torn away.

Facial Injuries

Bites to the face can result in disfigurement and may require reconstructive surgery.

Nerve Damage

The teeth of the dog can sever or damage nerves, leading to temporary or permanent loss of sensation or function.


Dog bites can introduce bacteria into the wound, leading to infections like cellulitis or more serious conditions such as sepsis.

Psychological Trauma

Although not a physical injury, the emotional and psychological impact of a dog bite can be significant, causing anxiety, fear, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Although rare, if the dog is not vaccinated, there is a risk of transmitting rabies through the bite, which is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.


This bacterial infection can occur if the wound is deep and not properly cleaned.


Long-term physical scarring can occur, which might require surgical intervention for cosmetic or functional reasons.

Understanding the different types of injuries that can result from a dog bite is crucial for appropriate medical treatment and legal action. Always consult a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment if you or someone you know has suffered from a dog bite.


Can I sue for a dog bite in Iowa?

Yes, in Iowa, you can sue for a dog bite under the state’s strict liability laws, which generally hold the dog owner responsible for injuries caused by their pet, regardless of the dog’s previous behavior. Iowa law often favors the victim, allowing for the recovery of damages that can include medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. There may be specific exceptions or defenses available to the owner, such as if the victim was trespassing or provoking the dog. However, it’s crucial to consult an experienced dog bite attorney to guide you through the legal process and ensure that your rights are adequately protected. Legal action should be initiated promptly to preserve evidence and meet any applicable statutes of limitations.

What is the Iowa law for dog bites?

Iowa operates under a “strict liability” law when it comes to dog bites, meaning that dog owners are generally held liable for any injuries their dog causes, whether or not the owner was aware of the dog’s propensity for aggression or biting. The law applies not just to bites but also to injuries caused by a dog knocking someone over, for example. However, there are certain exceptions where the owner might not be held liable, such as if the injured person was illegally trespassing or provoking the animal. It’s essential for both dog owners and victims to consult legal advice specific to their situation to fully understand their rights and responsibilities under Iowa law.

Can I claim if a dog bites me?

Yes, if you are bitten by a dog, you generally have the legal right to file a claim for damages against the dog’s owner. The specifics can vary depending on jurisdiction, but in many places, including states like Iowa with “strict liability” laws, the dog owner is typically held liable for injuries caused by their pet. Damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. There are exceptions, such as if you were trespassing or provoking the dog, which could affect your ability to make a successful claim. It’s advisable to consult with an experienced dog bite attorney as soon as possible to understand your rights and the best course of action specific to your situation.

What Damages in a Dog Bite Claim can I recover?

In a dog bite claim, the types of damages you can potentially recover vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the case. Generally, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, which can include not only immediate treatment but also future medical costs related to the injury, such as physical therapy or surgical procedures. Lost wages due to time off work for recovery may also be recoverable. Additionally, you may claim damages for pain and suffering, which covers the physical discomfort and emotional distress you’ve endured. In some cases, you might be entitled to punitive damages, especially if the dog owner’s behavior was particularly negligent or reckless. It’s essential to consult an experienced dog bite attorney to assess the full range of damages applicable to your specific situation.

Why Choose Des Moines Injury Law as Your Dog Bite Lawyer in Des Moines, IA?

In the aftermath of a traumatic dog bite incident, you need more than just medical care; you need legal representation that will fight relentlessly for your rights. At Des Moines Injury Law, our team of highly experienced lawyers specializes in navigating Iowa’s complex strict liability laws concerning dog bites. We work diligently to ensure that you are compensated fairly for your medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, and any other damages you’ve suffered. Our expertise, resources, and deep understanding of both the legal and emotional aspects of dog bite cases set us apart. We handle every facet of your case so you can focus on your recovery. Don’t navigate this complicated and stressful process alone; let Des Moines Injury Law be your advocate and guide, helping you secure the justice and compensation you deserve.

Des Moines Dog Bite Laws

If you have been bitten by a dog, contact a Des Moines dog bite lawyer. To address these concerns and protect the rights of individuals in Des Moines, Iowa, the state has established specific laws and regulations related to dog bites. This article will explore the key aspects of dog bite laws in Des Moines, providing valuable insights for both dog owners and potential victims.

Liability For Dog Owners

In Des Moines, as in many other jurisdictions, the liability for dog owners in case of a bite or attack largely depends on the circumstances surrounding the incident. Iowa follows a strict liability rule, which means that dog owners can be held responsible for any injuries their dog causes, regardless of the dog’s past behavior or the owner’s knowledge of the dog’s aggression.

Proving Liability

To establish liability, the victim must demonstrate that the dog was responsible for the bite and that they were lawfully present at the location where the incident occurred. However, trespassers or individuals engaged in illegal activities may have a harder time making a claim for compensation.

Owner’s Knowledge Of Aggression

In Des Moines, the owner’s knowledge of their dog’s aggressive tendencies is not a determining factor in holding them responsible. Even if the dog has never shown any prior signs of aggression, the owner can still be held liable for a bite incident.

Statute Of Limitations

A Des Moines dog bite lawyer advises to be aware of the statute of limitations for filing a dog bite claim in Des Moines. Typically, a person has two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. After this period has passed, the right to seek compensation may be forfeited.

Dog At Large

In Des Moines, a dog owner may face stricter penalties if their dog was “at large” when the bite occurred. “At large” generally means the dog was not under reasonable control, such as being off-leash or wandering without a handler. In such cases, the owner may be held responsible for additional damages.

Breed-Specific Legislation

Des Moines does not have breed-specific legislation targeting particular dog breeds, such as pit bulls or Rottweilers. However, individual cities within Iowa may have their own regulations regarding specific breeds. It’s important to check with local ordinances for any breed-specific restrictions.

Defenses For Dog Owners

While Iowa’s dog bite laws place significant responsibility on dog owners, there are certain defenses they can employ to mitigate their liability. These may include proving that the victim was trespassing, that they provoked the dog, or that the dog was in a situation where it was defending itself or its owner.

If you have been bitten by another person’s dog, schedule a meeting with a Des Moines dog bite lawyer. Under a strict liability rule, owners can be held responsible regardless of their knowledge of their dog’s aggression. It is essential for both dog owners and potential victims to understand these laws, their rights, and potential defenses in the event of a dog bite incident. At Des Moines Injury Law, we are dedicated to helping our clients get justice.


Des Moines Injury Law, Des Moines Dog Bite Lawyer

699 Walnut Street, Des Moines, IA 50309

Client Review

“After being in a car accident several years ago (no fault of our own), my wife and I had long ago wrote off getting any kind of fair settlement. 6 years later and a surprise call from Chris Johnston, he took over our case and got things handled very fairly. I highly recommend Chris.”
Trevor E
Client Review

Christopher Martineau

Attorney at Law

Christopher Johnston

Attorney at Law