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Is the Landlord or the Tenant Responsible for a Dog Bite?

Torem & Associates

I live in an apartment building with my family. Our neighbor’s dog bit my child. My child had to have stitches and cosmetic surgery to repair the damage. She now has nightmares and is afraid to go out of our apartment. Who do I sue for the dog bite – the landlord or my neighbor?

Unfortunately, dog bites are more common than you might believe. Millions of people are bitten by dogs in the United States each year. When young children are bitten, the attack can cause both physical and emotional damages. For some children, it can take years to psychologically recover from a dog bite.

In addition to the substantial medical bills incurred from treating the physical injuries caused by a dog bite, the child often needs years of counseling to overcome psychological injuries such as nightmares and overpowering fears. Who pays for these expenses? Who pays for the lost wages and other expenses a parent has from missing time away from work to care for his or her child?

California Dog Bite Laws

California dog bite laws provide for strict liability when it comes to a dog bite. California Civil Code Section 3342 states:The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.

What this means for dog owners is that California law holds them responsible if their dog bites anyone even if the dog has never been vicious and has never bitten anyone before this incident. If the person is in a public place or has a legal right to be on private property, the dog owner is liable for any damages from a dog bite. In most cases, the dog owners’ homeowner’s insurance covers the damages caused by a dog bite that occurs on the dog owner’s property. What happens if the dog owner is renting the property?

Suing a Landlord for Dog Bites

If the dog owner is renting the home, the dog owner may not have homeowner’s insurance that covers dog bites. If the dog owner does not have sufficient assets to pay for the damages, the injured victim could be left to bear the financial burden of a dog bite alone. However, there are circumstances in which the injured victim may have a claim against the landlord.

California law states that a landlord who knew a dog had vicarious tendencies but the landlord did not terminate the rental agreement when he had an opportunity to do so can be held liable if the dog bites someone on the landlord’s property. It can be difficult to prove that a landlord had actual knowledge that a dog was on the premises and that the dog could be vicious. It is important to hire a Fresno dog bite attorney as soon as possible following the injury. A dog bite attorney will investigate the circumstances surrounding the injury to prepare a case against the dog owner and/or landlord.

If You Have Been Bitten By A Dog, Call An Experienced Fresno Dog Bite Attorney

Were you bitten by a dog? If you have been injured by no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, physical pain, and emotional suffering. Call the personal injury attorneys of Torem & Associates at (888) 500-5000 to schedule a free consultation.


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