Learn about three scenarios that can make a landlord liable when their tenant’s dog bites

When Are Landlords Liable for Dog Bites?

In California, dog owners are strictly liable for unprovoked injuries caused by their pets. Unfortunately, not all dog owners carry sufficient homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to cover the damages associated with dog bites. Rather than depending on the dog owner’s personal assets alone to pay the bill, dog bite injury victims should consider whether any landlord liability may apply to their case. If so, compensation can be sought from the landlord, who will typically have better insurance and more assets than the dog owner.

Three Situations that Can Lead to Landlord Liability

The circumstances in which a landlord may be found liable for injuries caused by a tenant’s dog are rather limited. In order to prove liability, the dog bite victim would need to show that they were bitten because of the landlord’s negligence. There are three main situations where this might be possible.

Failure to Remove a Dangerous Dog: Landlords are under no duty to inspect their properties to see whether or not a tenant is keeping a dog. However, if a landlord does become aware of a tenant having a dangerous dog, and allows that dog to remain on the premises even though it is reasonably foreseeable that the dog could injure someone, the landlord could be liable. However, it is important to check the lease agreement to see whether the landlord actually had the right to remove the dog. Without a provision allowing the removal of a dangerous animal, a landlord would not be liable for failing to do so.

Harboring a Tenant’s Dog: If a landlord cares for a tenant’s dog or exercises any control over it, they can be said to be “harboring” the dog. This creates a different relationship with the animal, and the landlord then becomes responsible for the dog’s actions. A landlord that has been harboring a tenant’s dog will be strictly liable for dog bites just as the owner would be—with no obligation for the plaintiff to show that the dog was previously known to be dangerous.

Allowing a Dog to Escape: If a landlord gives permission for a tenant to keep a dog on the property, and then defects on the property—such as a rotten board on a fence—allow the dog to escape and bite someone, the landlord may be liable even if the bite did not take place on the landlord’s property. The defect that allowed the escape must be something that the landlord knew about or should have known about had they been properly inspecting their property.

Need Help with a Dog Bite Injury Case?

If you have been bitten by a dog, contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker right away. As your dog bite injury attorney, we can advise you on the best course of action given the facts of your case, whether that be suing the dog owner or their landlord. We will also fight to maximize your compensation for your injuries and suffering. Call 800-333-0000 now for a free consultation.

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