Yes, if the owner is trying to blame you for the dog bite. Under Utah Code Section 18-1-1, “it shall not be necessary for any action brought [for injury caused by a dog] to allege or prove that such dog was of vicious or mischievous disposition or that the owner or keeper thereof knew that it was vicious or mischievous.” But just because you don’t have to prove that the dog was vicious, or that the owner knew the dog was dangerous, doesn’t mean you can’t argue it.
How does this work? Suppose your neighbor’s dog has bitten three people, and then it bites you.
You can sue the owner for strict liability, which means that you don’t have to prove the owner was negligent. Can you still tell the jury that the dog has bitten three other people? Yes.
Why? Because (as discussed in another blog post) a dog owner in Utah is allowed to argue that you were partly or entirely at fault for the dog bite. If the owner could present evidence of your negligence, but you were not allowed to present evidence of the owner’s negligence, the jury would only have half of the evidence in deciding who was at fault.
“Where the defendant claims that another party also contributed to the injuries and is allowed to offer evidence of that person’s negligence for the jury to determine his own percentage of fault, it necessarily follows that the [person bitten] must be allowed to offer evidence of the defendant’s negligence, i.e., disposition and prior activities of the dog and the owner’s knowledge thereof,” the Utah Supreme Court ruled in S. H. v. ######. “Such evidence is needed for the jury to validly establish a percentage of comparative fault on the part of a defendant.”