You may be able to sue an owner of a dog for damages if the dog bites you, jumps on you or scratches you. You may be able to sue the owner or landlord of the property that the dog bitten, but it is much more difficult and requires the right facts. According to the specifics of the incident, you may have a claim for strict liability or premises liability.
Dog Bite Lawsuit Basics
The same laws apply to dog bite lawsuits as they do for any other personal injury lawsuit. A person who has been injured can sue the person or organization that caused the injury, or was legally responsible for preventing it. You must prove, by a majority of evidence (the jury will find that these things are more than 50% true) that you have the right to sue.
- The defendant owns the dog or the property in which the incident occurred;
- You were attacked by a dog.
- You are injured because of the actions of the dog (or, in some cases owner’s negligence or actions of dog)
- Your injuries caused you financial losses
Strict Liability, Premises Liability, and Negligence
- Strict Liability – You can sue the owner of the dog because it is his responsibility for any bites that his dog causes (unless the owner can prove the attack was caused by you).
- Premises Liability – You can sue the owner of a property that was attacked, as injuries on his property fall under his legal responsibility. This may be true even if he does not own the dog. The laws governing premises liability also allow people who are injured in restaurant slip-and-fall accidents to sue their restaurants.
- Negligence: You sue a dog owner because his dog injured you. You are following the general rule that any owner of property, including an animal, is responsible for damages (injuries and property damage) that may be caused by the property. You can also sue your neighbor if his dog killed your purebred rabbit, dug up your garden that you had just planted or damaged your car because of his Santa Claus roof decoration.
What Are the Legal Responsibilities of Dog Owners?
Owners of dogs are responsible for any bites their dog may cause. It doesn’t matter if your dog has ever bit someone before, or if it was well-trained and used to meeting new people. However, it is the other way around. The dog owner must have had knowledge or reason to believe that his dog was likely to bite someone to be held liable.
You Can Sue Someone Other Than The Dog Owner
You may be able to bring a claim against the owner or landlord of the premises where the dog bit you. You may be able to make a claim against the owner or landlord of the property where the dog bit you if both you and the owner of the animal that bit you rent apartments at the same complex. The landlord would have been aware of the viciousness of the dog or that it had previously bitten other people, but took no measures. You will have a stronger case against the landlord if you can prove that he was aware of the potential dog attack. You could, for example, support your claim with evidence that neighbors complained about the dog prior to you being bitten.
This article was written by Alla Tenina. Alla is a top personal injury lawyer in Orange County CA, and the founder of Tenina Law. She has experience in bankruptcies, real estate planning, and complex physical injury matters. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. This website contains links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader, user or browser; the ABA and its members do not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.