Liabilities of a Landlord in cases of a Dog Bite in the US
Residences having dogs as their pet, chances are quite much of encountering a dog bite. The liabilities can be strict when it comes to dog bite cases.
Can the landlord be held liable for a dog bite?
The landlord, the owner of the dog keeper can be held liable for any damages or injuries caused by the dog.
However, many other factors are taken into consideration to contribute to a conclusion whether the dog’s owner would be held liable for its dog bite or not.
If the dog bite occurred when the dog was in the care of someone other than its owner, such as a dog walker, the dog walker’s owner shall be held liable for the dog bite.
The liability occurs only if the person who’s been injured was legally present at the location where the dog attack took place and if the dog wasn’t provoked by the injured person.
On what occasions is the landlord liable?
Although every case differs as every case has its own facts and circumstances, however, typically, if a dog bites someone, the owner of the dog is solely responsible for the injuries and damages caused to the injured person.
Following are some examples of instances where a landlord shall be held liable for the dog bites –
If the landlord was aware of the danger –
If the landlord was aware that his/her dog has a ferocious temperament or the dog had bitten somebody in the past and the landlord was aware of the attack, then the landlord could be held liable for the damages and injuries caused by the dog on account of not taking measures to prevent further attacks by their dog.
However, the landlord cannot be held liable if and when the landlord knew the dog was dangerous but the landlord did not possess the ability to remove the dog, in such instances the landlord cannot be held liable.
For example – If the dangerous dog was tried to be removed from the property by its owner, but such a move was blocked by a court, in such instances, the landlord cannot be held financially liable for the dog attack even if the attack occurred on his/her property.
Negligence of the owner –
There can be situations where a property owner can be found negligent.
For example – if the dog owner, landlord inadequately maintained the property that caused the dog to escape home or yard and bit someone, there are high chances that the landlord will be held liable.
If the landlord was aware of the fact that his/her dog was aggressive and failed to maintain or repair a section of a fence or the house boundary causing the dog to escape, the property owner can be held liable financially for the damages caused.
Incompetency to remove the dog –
In an instance where the landlord was aware that the dog was dangerous and such landlord possessed the ability to remove the dog but chose not to, he/she could be held responsible for any injuries and damages caused by the dog.
For example – if the landlord had entered into a lease agreement with the tenant stating that they would get rid of the dog that exhibited any type of violent or dangerous behaviour, the landlord is responsible to enforce such agreement, failure of which can hold him liable.
De Facto Owner –
Who is a De Facto Owner?
If a dog is cared by a landlord as if the landlord owns the dog, the landlord in such instance will inherit the same liability as the dog’s actual owner if any injury is caused by the dog.
For example – if the landlord takes care of the dog, watches and feeds the dog, takes the dog for walks when the owner is not around, he/she becomes a de-facto owner.
Injuries caused by the dog and Compensation –
Dog bites can potentially result in major injuries such as puncture wounds to internal injuries to broken bones.
Sometimes the attack might also result in limb amputations.
For all such instances, the dog attack victims shall be able to seek compensation for the injuries and damages caused to them such as hospitalisation, medical expenses, cost of cosmetic surgery, lost income, psychological therapy, pain and suffering due to the injuries and emotional agony.