Can I be sued if my tied dog bites a child? 25 Answers as of June 10, 2013

I was in my yard and my dog was out on his chain and a kid from the neighborhood came into my yard. My dog bit him. Can I be sued?

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LT Pepper Law
LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
You can be sued but there may be a defense since the child may have been trespassing.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 5/27/2011
Bloom Gates Sigler & Whiteleather, LLP
Bloom Gates Sigler & Whiteleather, LLP | Matthew Shipman
Based on the facts that you have submitted, the child is likely a trespasser and will have a difficult time suing you. However, there are many other factors that would go into this determination. If you do get sued, immediately turn the complaint over to your homeowners insurance or renter's insurance as they may provide you with coverage and an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 5/25/2011
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
Yes. Contact your insurance agent to get the contact information for the claims department if you become aware that the child's family is making a claim. Stay well.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 5/12/2011
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
Probably. But being sued does not equal be negligent and liable. Worry about it when authorities try to take the dog or you get sued. In case of the suit, call your insurance carrier, it will provide an attorney. As to the authorities, you might want to talk to a criminal attorney first.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/12/2011
Law Office of Curry & Westgate
Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
Yes, dog bites usually always make the owner liable.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/11/2011
    Cary J. Wintroub & Associates
    Cary J. Wintroub & Associates | Sheldon J. Aberman
    While anyone can sue, not everyone can successfully collect relative to their claim. In Illinois, under the Animal Control Act, the victim of a dog bite can sue and successfully collect from a person who owns or keeps a dog, provided that the victim did not do something to provoke the bite. "Provoked" means any act, whether intentional or not, which would reasonably be expected to cause a dog to bite. If the owner or keeper can prove provocation, it can bar this type of claim. Separately, under common law, one can sue a person who owns or keeps a dog for negligence, provided that the owner or keeper knew or should have known that the dog had bitten another on a prior occasion. Under this theory, the owner or keeper can defend the claim by proving that the victim was contributorily negligent in his or her conduct, which can serve to bar or reduce the damages in this type of claim.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    David Hoines Law
    David Hoines Law | David Hoines
    Yes, especially if the dog had bitten a person in the past.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    There is strict liability (meaning yes) as long as the dog was not being teased tormented or abused. Your homeowners insurance should cover this claim.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
    Can you be sued? Of course, since anyone can sue anyone, justified or not. Will you lose? Heres the applicable statute: Civil Code section 3342. (a) The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner. The question for you will be whether the kid that was bitten was lawfully on your property. Does he come onto the property frequently? Was he invited? Was this the first time he was ever on your property? was there a gate? Was the gate open? There are a host of questions to be asked to determine whether he was lawfully on your property. As you can see, whether the dog bit anyone beforehand is irrelevant If you have homeowners insurance, they typically cover dog bites. Be mindful of the following statute now that your dog has bitten someone: Civil Code section 3342.5. (a) The owner of any dog that has bitten a human being shall have the duty to take such reasonable steps as are necessary tore move any danger presented to other persons from bites by the animal. (b) Whenever a dog has bitten a human being on at least two separate occasions, any person, the district attorney, or city attorney may bring an action against the owner of the animal to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bites have been changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal. This action shall be brought in the county where a bite occurred. The court, after hearing, may make any order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such an incident, including,but not limited to, the removal of the animal from the area or its destruction if necessary. (c) Whenever a dog trained to fight, attack, or kill has bitten a human being, causing substantial physical injury, any person,including the district attorney, or city attorney may bring an action against the owner of the animal to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bites have been changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal.

    This action shall be brought in the county where a bite occurred. The court,after hearing, may make any order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such an incident, including, but not limited to, the removal of the animal from the area or its destruction if necessary. (d) Nothing in this section shall authorize the bringing of an action pursuant to subdivision (b) based on a bite or bites inflicted upon a trespasser, or by a dog used in military or police work if the bite or bites occurred while the dog was actually performing in that capacity. (e) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent legislation in the field of dog control by any city, county, or city and county. (f) Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the liability of the owner of a dog under Section 3342 or any other provision of the law. (g) A proceeding under this section is a limited civil case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney | Patrick M Lamar
    Anyone can sue for anything. It depends on the viciousness of the dog and the age of the child. Some children cannot trespass. Also, a trap (vicious dog) cannot be used to protect property.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Ferguson & Ferguson
    Ferguson & Ferguson | Randy W. Ferguson
    You can be sued for anything. I doubt if they can win in your case. Notify your insurance company.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 5/11/2011
    Ramunno & Ramunno, P.A.
    Ramunno & Ramunno, P.A. | Lawrence A. Ramunno
    Anyone can be sued, but it does not appear you did anything wrong.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Law Offices of Joseph I. Lipsky, P.A.
    Law Offices of Joseph I. Lipsky, P.A. | Joseph Lipsky
    In Florida, the owner of a dog is strictly responsible if their dog bites someone, regardless of whether they were negligent. However, if the dog owner has a prominently displayed sign with the words "bad dog" on it, the dog owner usually will not be liable, absent some other negligence. If you have homeowner's insurance, it would be in your best interest to place them on notice of a potential claim.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Dearbonn Law Offices
    Dearbonn Law Offices | Ajibola Oluyemisi Oladapo
    First you need to determine if the child is a trespasser. Is the kid a licensee on your property, does he regularly come in? or did he trespass on this day? Secondly, how old is the kid? third, is there an attractive nuisance in your yard? fourth , does your dog have a propensity to bite and you are well aware of this? Also, keep in mind that a child under the age of 6 is incapable of contributory negligence at least in the state where i practice. So if the bitten child is under age 6, regardless of whether he trespassed or not, you can be sued *for allowing access to your yard in the first place when you know you have a dog with a propensity to bite. Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advise.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    Normally, you can be sued if your dog bites someone. However, since your dog was tied up and the child came to the dog, it is my opinion that you would not be liable.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Law Office of Russell D. Gray, PC
    Law Office of Russell D. Gray, PC | Russell D. Gray
    Yes. In Utah the owner or keeper of a dog is strictly liable for all injuries caused by the dog.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A.
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
    It is possible, but it would be a difficult claim I would think. If your dog has any history of biting or violent tendencies, that would be a strike against you. Also a strike against you would be any history of neighborhood children coming into your yard and having contact with the animal. If the child's family threatens legal action against you, you may want to contact your homeowner's or renter's insurance (if you carry such insurance) because they would likely retain a lawyer for you to defend your interests. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/21/2012
    El Dabe Law Firm
    El Dabe Law Firm | Edmond El Dabe
    Yes, you can be sued. The CA dog bite statute is strict liability. You are responsible if your dog bites anyone. Period. However, if the child was taunting the dog, or provoked the dog, you may have a defense.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Kirshner & Groff
    Kirshner & Groff | Richard M. Kirshner
    You can always be sued. Whether they collect or not Is another question.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    You can be sued, but you might have a defense of trespass. Your homeowner's insurance will defend you and pay up to your policy limits, so you should be okay regardless. Contact me if you need to discuss further.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Harris Law Firm
    Harris Law Firm | Paul Vames
    You can always be sued. The question of whether the other party can win the suit is an entirely different issue. Based on the minimal facts you've set forth, it is difficult to say whether you were negligent. Whether you were negligent is the relevant inquiry in determining whether or not the other party can win. Relevant questions will include how accessible your dog was to the child; whether your dog has a history of violence; whether your dog was provoked; whether you placed sufficient warning regarding the dog; whether the minor was able to understand your warnings, if any; whether the child had had prior contact with your dog; etc. You will eventually want to advise your homeowners' insurer of this incident and give your side of the story. Assuming you had homeowners insurance, it will probably cover you for this claim.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/10/2011
    Premier Law Group
    Premier Law Group | Jason Epstein
    Yes.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/10/2013
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