Am I liable if my dog bites someone when he was provoked? 15 Answers as of May 12, 2015

My dog bit someone. He was on a leash, but this stupid kid came up and was throwing rocks at him. I tried to get the kid to stop, but he would not do it, and when the kid got too close, my dog bit him. It was a very small mark, but of course, his mother only saw the dog bite him, and now she is threatening to sue. I am so worried about my dog, I do not want them to put him down! Am I really liable for this?

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Law Offices of Ronald A. Steinberg & Associates | Ronald A. Steinberg, BA, MA, JD
The owner of a dog is liable for an unprovoked attack by the dog. Just turn the matter over to your homeowner's insurance company to defend. You will be the chief witness for your position, and since the mother did not see what preceded the dog bite, your lawyer will beat her up on cross examination.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/12/2015
Stephens Gourley & Bywater | David A. Stephens
You could be although the provocation would be a defense.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 5/12/2015
Andrew T. Velonis, P.C.
Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
Under the circumstances you describe, no. But: it is possible that they might have a different version of the event and then it comes to who is more believable. If you have homeowners or renters insurance, call them right away and cooperate fully in the investigation. They will defend you and if a deal needs to be made, they will pay the settlement and if they decide to fight, they will pay the attorney fees.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 5/12/2015
Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
In Florida, you are statutorily liable for any injuries your dog causes when he bites another, with the exception of when the person provokes the dog, as was done here. If you have homeowners' insurance, report the claim to your insurer right away..... they'll take care of it.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 5/12/2015
Law Offices of George H. Shers | George H. Shers
You are not liable but the problem will be the kid will deny he threw rocks. ?If you saw it and that the dog was on a leash, and especially if the dog was on your property, you should be able to win, but you can not be sure what animal control will do. ?Write the mother a detailed letter as to the facts and that her son is guilty of animal abuse and can get into criminal trouble and he is forbidden from ever coming onto your property or any where near the dog [because you know he will likely do it again] and that you refuse to pay anything because he is liable and not you. ?Do you have an insurance policy that would protect you
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/12/2015
    Adler Law Group, LLC
    Adler Law Group, LLC | Lawrence Adler
    Your home owners insurance will defend you if you have that coverage. You are generally liable for your dog unless the other person was teasing or tormenting it.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 5/11/2015
    James E. Hasser, Jr. P.C.
    James E. Hasser, Jr. P.C. | Jim Hasser
    No. Like you said, your dog was provoked. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 5/11/2015
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    The first thing you should be doing is notifying your homeowners or renters insurance carrier. Just as aside, if any individual torments a dog and gets themselves but that generally is a defense unless the dog has been known to be aggressive in the past. You remember, however, that your recollection will be significantly different than the other sides.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/11/2015
    Richard B. Jacobson & Associates, LLC | Richard B. Jacobson
    You might be held liable. Your defense is that the child provoked the dog. You will need to find witnesses. And a lawyer. Good Luck.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 5/11/2015
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm
    Bulman Law Associates PLLC Injury Law Firm | Thomas Bulman
    Maintain a low profile for now. However, now that your dog has bitten someone, regardless of the justification, the next time he bites, you will be liable if a jury ever gets it. I don't quite see how the child was bitten if you had a leash.
    Answer Applies to: Montana
    Replied: 5/11/2015
    Law Office of Lisa Hurtado McDonnell | Lisa Hurtado McDonnell
    Tell her to send you the his medical bill. If they didn't go to a doctor then they don't have a claim for damages.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 5/11/2015
    Law Ofices of Edwin K. Niles | Edwin K. Niles
    The dog is not likely to be in any danger, but yes, you are responsible although the kid is as well. Check to see if your homeowner's policy has liability coverage. If not, explain to Mom how the kid provoked the incident.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/11/2015
    Joel H. Schwartz, P.C.
    Joel H. Schwartz, P.C. | Steven A. Schwartz
    In Massachusetts, we have strict liability when it comes to injuries caused by dogs. Typically, that means that the owner and or keeper of the dog is automatically liable for all injuries and/or damages caused by the dog. The one exception to the rule is when a person teases or torments a dog and the dog bites as a result. This is a defense that can used in your case.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 5/11/2015
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    You may be liable, but the facts of the matter will likely dismiss what happened. The incident should have been reported to the police. You can look into whether your homeowner's insurance will cover the matter. If not, get an attorney to assist you. Do not talk to anyone before hand.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/11/2015
    Law Offices of Robert Burns
    Law Offices of Robert Burns | Robert Burns
    Liability for damages and being put down are two different matters. Check with Animal Control about avoiding being put down.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/11/2015
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