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Old 22 May 2007, 07:50 AM
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It depends on jurisdiction, whether you are talking criminal or civil etc...

In Washington. Dangerous animals including dog bites are a strict liability. So no matter what you did. You would be liable for civil penalties.

The laws of Washington State have established dog owners shall be held responsible when their dog bites an innocent party. Specifically RCW 16.08.040 providers for a standard of "strict liability" on the dog owner as follows:

"Liability. The owner of any dog which shall bite any person while such person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place including the property of the owner of such dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness."

So a beware of dog sign in that case wouldn't matter either way. Unless the person was trespassing.

In a criminal cases where a dog was deemed dangerous, a beware of dog sign would be added to an affirmative defense. Bolding mine.

(3) The owner of any dog that aggressively attacks and causes severe injury or death of any human, whether or not the dog has previously been declared potentially dangerous or dangerous, shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a class C felony punishable in accordance with RCW 9A.20.021. It is an affirmative defense that the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the human severely injured or killed by the defendant's dog: (a) Trespassed on the defendant's real or personal property which was enclosed by fencing suitable to prevent the entry of young children and designed to prevent the dog from escaping and marked with clearly visible signs warning people, including children, not to trespass and to beware of dog
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