Montana Dog Bite Law

A dog bite victim in Montana can recover compensation under a special statute and the doctrines of negligence, negligence per se, scienter, and intentional tort. The dog bite statute has an unusual restriction: it provides strict liability only in incorporated cities and towns, not elsewhere.


The law of the State of Montana is favorable to the victim if the injury took place in an incorporated city or town. Attacks in cities and towns are strictly the responsibility of the owner of the dog. A person who is injured by a dog in this state, whether in an urban or other setting, also may use the more common grounds for liability. They are scienter, negligence, and negligence per se. For further information about these causes of action, see Legal Rights of Dog Bite Victims in the USA.

The state dog bite statute is numbered 27-1-715, and reads as follows:

27-1-715. Liability of owner of vicious dog.

(1) The owner of any dog which shall without provocation bite any person while such person is on or in a public place or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of such dog, located within an incorporated city or town 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.

(2) A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States of America or when he is on such property as an invitee or licensee of the person lawfully in possession of the property.

Montana does not permit the defense of comparative negligence or any other affirmative defenses, excepting only provocation and trespass because these are mentioned in the statute itself. Stroop v. Day, 271 Mont. 314 (1995).

A nonresident property owner is not liable for injuries to others inflicted by a dog owned and maintained by the occupant of the property in question. Vennes v. Miller, 954 P.2d 736 (Mont. 1998).