one-bite rule

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The one-bite rule often arises in lawsuits involving bites from domesticated animals (e.g. dog bites). This rule is a scienter requirement under common law that requires the plaintiff to first bear the burden of proof in pleading and proving that the dog owner either knew or was negligent in not knowing that the dog had a propensity to injure people. If the plaintiff successfully proves this and if the dog bite occurred within the dog owner’s enclosure, the dog owner may be held liable for the dog bite.

Because this is a common law rule, many states have either rejected or modified the one-bite rule either by statute or case law.

[Last updated in April of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]