Dog bite statutes and liability rules vary in each state. The answer depends on which state you live in.

There are states that do not allow intruders to sue dog owners, regardless of age. For example, a child goes over the fence to retrieve a remote controlled airplane and was bitten by your dog. The child’s family won’t be able to sue for damages.

Some states provide exception to children below 5 years of age. For example, a 4-year old wanders off to another family’s property and gets bitten by their dog. In this case, the child’s family can collect for damages.

Other states don’t consider uninvited individuals as tresspassers – police officers. mailmen, door to door salesmen, etc. These persons are carrying out their professional duties therefore, the “trespassing” defense does not apply to them. Once injured in a private or public property while performing their duties, they have every right to sue the dog owner.

You may also need to look at this basic rules which apply to most, if not all states:

Dog-bite statutes. Most of these do not allow trespassers to sue for dog bite injuries. However, if an injured party lawfully entered a privately-owned residential property and got bitten by a dog, he/she may file suit.

Common law rule. This is quite complicated as most states have revised versions of this rule. Some states have now allowed trespassers to file suit against the dog owner, particularly when the dog owner is aware of his dog’s aggressive behavior or tendencies. This means a burglar can sue the property owner even if he trespassed into the residential property.

As statutes and liability laws concerning dog bites can get quite confusing, it’s often a good idea to consult with a dog bite attorney within your area. An experienced lawyer can piece together the rules and laws that apply to your specific situation in your particular state.

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