Am I liable for her, and her dog's injuries if I own my property and residence? 2 Answers as of September 27, 2016

There is an adjacent residence that is normally accessed by foot and vehicle via a driveway that is on my private property. This has been the case for 40+ years. There is not a legal easement recorded for this driveway. Just a gentleman's agreement between the former adjacent property owner and my husband. Recently, a realtor used the driveway to enter the two properties and hand out flyers. She placed a flyer in my USPS mailbox (illegal?). She had a brief conversation with the resident of the other property. She had her small dog with her on a leash. She was not invited and the property is posted private/no trespassing. While she was walking on the driveway to leave, my dog left my house via a pet door, ran to the driveway, and attacked her dog. During the 'scuffle' she fell down and got some scrapes. No emergency medical service was requested or called. She left on her own with her dog. Her dog was treated by a vet and released (so she says). She initially lied and said my dog bit her reporting it to animal control. My sister was a witness chasing the dog out of the house and my dog did not bite her. Now she is asking me to pay for her vet expenses, chiropractic treatments, miscellaneous medical supplies and other stuff. She was on the property without permission and it's posted no trespassing. She had to cross another person’s private property, also posted, to even access the 'driveway' and bypassed a locked vehicle gate, though she did so on foot by just walking around it, leaving her car on the other side. The other property does have frontage on a public road, it's just never been used.

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Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
1. If you have a homeowner?s policy, check to see if it includes liability. If so, let the ins. co. handle it. 2. If no ins., negotiate a modest settlement if possible. Dog attacks are, generally speaking, the subject of strict liability. Of course there is an argument to be made about trespassing, but you may be better served to try to settle than spend money with a lawyer defending the claim.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/27/2016
Law Offices of George H. Shers | George H. Shers
It is illegal to place non-stamped mail in the mailbox but there are no damages to you. If the nearby house has no access except by your private driveway, there may be a prescriptive easement of necessity [especially if house built by same person who owned your lot at the time]. You should work out a more formal, written agreement with those neighbors as to the right to use your driveway. I need more facts as to the dog fight. It sounds like she was uninvited by anyone and just passing out fliers; she was trespassing but that probably is insufficient as a defense, as people do that all the time and courts allow it. If you had a sign up saying beware of dog, the pet door was very visible, most of the people whose homes she had already been to had dogs, your dog did not actually start the fight, she could have avoided being in the dog fight and tripped then there would be some degree of negligence on her part. Going to a chiropractor as to cuts and bruises makes no sense. Check your homeowner's insurance to see if you have coverage and what effect paying on a claim has on your premium [if you have an aggressive type dog then insurance coverage may exclude that bred]. Contact the woman in writing raising all the issues you can but seeing if the matter can be settled for a very low sum.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/27/2016
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