Dogs bring enormous joy, companionship, and fulfillment to many people. However, every year, thousands of people are injured due to dog bites. It makes sense that often the owner of a dog that bites someone will be held legally responsible for the injuries. What you may not know is that in certain cases a landlord can also be held responsible for injuries caused by a tenant's dog. Read on to learn more about landlord liability for dog bites.
Dog Bite Lawsuits and Liability
When a person is harmed by a dog bite, the law holds various people liable, or responsible, for the injury. Each state has its own laws regarding liability in dog bite cases. Some states hold the owner of a dog strictly liable, meaning responsible for the injury regardless of the relative degree of fault. Other states require a dog owner to have prior knowledge of the dog's dangerous tendencies in order to be held legally responsible.
If you are a dog owner and a renter, you may be held responsible for property damage and injury caused by your dog. This is particularly true if the dog has previously displayed aggressive or dangerous behavior. It's a good idea as a dog-owning tenants to have adequate renter's insurance to protect against dog bite liability. However, some renter's insurance policies will not cover larger or more protective and aggressive breeds, such as pit bulls, German shepherds, and Rottweilers.
Landlord Responsibility for Dog Bites
If you are a landlord, you must make the decision whether or not to allow dogs in your rentals. While some pets likely pose no problem, allowing dogs can increase the risk of property damage or injury. The law doesn't automatically hold landlords liable for dog bites. But, if a responsible tenant doesn't have enough insurance coverage, a dog-bite victim may decide to include the landlord as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit.
In certain circumstances, courts have found landlords to be liable for injuries caused by a tenant's dog. A landlord's personal responsibility depends heavily on the facts of the particular case. For example, as a landlord you are more likely to be held responsible if you were aware of the dog's previously violent or aggressive behavior, you had the legal power to remove the dog from the premises, and you chose not to do so.
Courts have also found landlords to be legally responsible for dog bites when the landlord had some level of control over the dog. Typically, this includes situations where a landlord cared for the dog as a typical owner would, including feeding the dog and taking it for walks. Once you take on a caregiving role, you may assume the same level of liability as the actual owner of the dog. To guard against liability for these sorts of incidents, smart landlords have clear dog policies and adequate insurance policies to cover tenant injuries.
Get a Review of Your Dog Bite Claim
If you've been injured by a dog bite, you may have legal recourse and it's important to act quickly to preserve your rights. Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney is a great first step to understanding dog bite laws and the strength of your particular case. Get a claim review to learn more.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.