Liability for Injury in Dog Bite Cases

It has often been stated that “every dog gets one free bite,” meaning a pet owner is not legally liable for an injury caused by the pet if the owner has (up to the time of that first bite) no reason to know the animal is dangerous.  In today’s world, that principle does not always hold up in court.  Even if a dog has not bitten in the past, there may be other factors a court may consider in determining whether a pet owner should have known his or her animal could have a propensity to cause injury to others.  Owners of certain breeds of animals traditionally considered more aggressive might not get the benefit of the “one free bite” rule.  Even if a dog has not bitten a human in the past, it may have exhibited aggressive behavior under certain circumstances.  These factors should be thoroughly investigated in the unfortunate, and sometimes tragic, situation involving an injury caused by an animal.

Other questions of liability often arise in the case of injuries caused by animal bites.  For example, does a landlord have duty to protect the public from a tenant’s dog?  The answer to that question will likely depend on whether the landlord has assumed such duty through his or her actions.  A landlord who has reason to believe a tenant’s animal is dangerous may, under certain circumstances, have a duty to protect the public.  Thus, it is possible that a landlord could find himself or herself legally liable for injuries caused by a tenant’s dog.

If you have any questions regarding liability for injury in dog bite cases, contact an attorney at Lemons, Grundy & Eisenberg to see if we can be of assistance to you.