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This answer varies state by state. In Virginia, a dog owner is only responsible for injuries that dog causes if the owner knew or should have known that the dog had a propensity for biting people.  This is sometimes known as the "one bite rule," which says that an owner is not responsible the first time their dog bites someone.

Sometimes this knowledge might come from the breed of the dog, but most often a person who has been bitten by a dog might show that the dog has bitten or threatened to bite someone in the past.  In some states, owners are automatically liable if their dog bites another person.

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Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.