Dog Bites - Who Is Responsible?

If you have been bitten by a dog, your first inclination may be to go after the owner of the dog to help pay for your injuries. This may be correct if you live in a strict liability state. These states hold the dog's owner liable even if the owner had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. But the dog's owner may not be the only one that you can hold liable for your injuries. There are others who may bear some of the responsibility for your injuries, and in turn have the responsibility for paying for the cost of your care although they are not the dog's owners. Here are a few people you may consider as defendants in your personal injury case. 

Landlords and Property Owners

If you are bitten by a dog that is on someone else's besides the dog's owners' property, the property owner may be responsible under the legal concept of premise liability. This concept basically means that you were injured due to an unsafe condition on that person's property. 

Premise liability is not an automatic given. You must be able to show that the property owner knew or had reason to know that there was something on the property, such as the dog that made the property unsafe. In addition to having knowledge of this unsafe condition, you may also have to be able to show that they failed to take steps to fix the situation, or make the property safe. 

For example: If the landlord knew that the dog as dangerous because they had bitten someone before, and they did not make the tenant get rid of the dog or make them move out, you may have a case against the landlord. You may be able to make them a party to your lawsuit and hold them or their property insurance company liable for your injuries. 

Dog Groomers and Dog Walkers

There are also states that have the one-bite rule. This rule states that after the dog has bitten someone once, the owner should know that the dog will bite and can be held liable for future dog bites. In addition to the owner of the dog, anyone who keeps or harbors the dog may also be liable for the injuries that the dog may cause. 

This rule can easily be applied to dog groomers or dog walkers, but be prepared to be able to show that they were aware that the dog had previously bitten someone. You may also be able to make them a defendant in your case if they were supposed to have care and control over the animal, such as maintaining it on a leash, and failed to do so. 

Parents Of The Owner

Although it varies from state to state, if the owner of the dog is less than 18 years old, you usually cannot file a suit against them. Even if you are able to, they usually do not have the financial resources to be able to pay any type of judgement that you may be awarded. In some cases you may be able to file a claim against their parent. If they are found to be liable, the court may order them to pay for your injuries or to file a claim against any type of applicable insurance that they have in place. 

Consult a knowledgeable and experienced dog bite attorney to figure out exactly who should be a defendant in any personal injury case you may need to file in order to receive compensation for your injuries. They will be able to review your specific case and give you the best advice on how to go forward.