Is a dog owner liable for a slip and fall injury caused by their dog? 43 Answers as of July 11, 2013

I went for a hike in a state park with a friend. Her dog ran behind me the leash cut across the back of my knees, knock me down. I fell and broke my arm. I went to the emergency room and had to have emergency surgery and spend one night in the hospital. Should the dog owners cover the bills?

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Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
The dog owner may be liable for your injuries. You should contact an attorney.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 7/5/2011
ROWE LAW FIRM
ROWE LAW FIRM | Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink
A dog owner may not be liable for a slip and fall injury caused by their dog. In a similar case an elderly woman was injured at her friend's home when she tripped over a cat that belonged to her friend. The cat had rubbed up against her ankles and managed to trip her. The court ruled that the woman has assumed the risk of the cat's normal behavior when she went to the home. The question is, was the owner negligent in any way? The law requires that a dog be on a leash, but not that the owner has complete control of the dog at all times. If you went on the hike with your friend and her dog you may have assumed the risk of normal dog behavior.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 7/1/2011
David Hoines Law
David Hoines Law | David Hoines
Maybe does the dog owner have homeowners insurance? not an easy claim.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 7/1/2011
Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates
Lyle B. Masnikoff and Associates | Lyle B. Masnikoff
Maybe. Need a little more details but the owners should be first to look at.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 7/11/2013
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
Yes, but you may share some of the fault. For example, a jury may decide that the dog owner was 80% at fault, and that you were 20% at fault (for example, for not paying attention - this is just an example). They would then make the dog owner pay 80% of whatever money they decide the injury was worth. However, this will require you to sue your friend directly, unless she has some kind of home owners insurance policy that covers her or her dog off premises.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 7/1/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Think you might be able to obtain recover.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    If the owners were negligent, yes. If their dog had a vicious propensity, yes. Check with their homeowners insurance co.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Offices of Joseph I. Lipsky, P.A.
    Law Offices of Joseph I. Lipsky, P.A. | Joseph Lipsky
    Florida has a specific statute which provides that the owner of a dog is liable for "damage" caused by the dog. But it is necessary to determine if the dog's owner has adequate liability insurance, as many such policy has specific exclusions for personal injuries caused by animals, such as dogs. This is the precise reason you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    I would certainly explore the claim. If someone else's negligence causes your injury, they are liable, with some exceptions.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    The Woods Law Firm
    The Woods Law Firm | F.W. Woods Jr.
    Yes. The owner is responsible for his dog and you are entitled to a recovery.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Greenwald, Mayfield & Vigil, LLP
    Greenwald, Mayfield & Vigil, LLP | Darrell J. Greenwald
    Yes you have a potential claim against the owner of the dog. You may even have a claim against the State Park as well, although this is less likely.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink
    Law Offices of Steven A. Fink | Steven Alan Fink
    She is responsible for controlling her dog. You should win a lawsuit and get your medical costs and other damages covered.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm
    Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm | Francis Hajek
    If a personal injury is caused by the failure of a dog owner to control their pet while it is on a leash, you may have a claim under Virginia law. I think that the owner should be responsible for your bills. The dog owner may have insurance that will assist her in paying your bills. You should put all the bills together in a package along with the medical records and provide them to the owner. If the bills are not paid in a reasonable amount of time, you can file a claim on your own or you may want to seek the assistance of a personal injury lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    There appears to be a claim.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C.
    The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C. | Josh Lamborn
    You certainly have a claim against the dog owner for her negligent handling of her dog. I would want to know what assets this person has to pay for such a claim. Will her homeowner's insurance cover it, etc.?
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    The Law Firm of Shawn M. Murray
    The Law Firm of Shawn M. Murray | Shawn M. Murray
    From what you are relating it sounds as though the dog owners are probably liable for your damages, which would include your medical bills and your pain and suffering.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Offices of Tom Patton
    Law Offices of Tom Patton | Thomas C. Patton
    I am sorry about your injuries. Yes, in my opinion, you have a good case. I believe the dog owner is liable for your injuries. The dog owner negligently failed to control the dog. In addition to your medical bills, you should also receive compensation for your pain and suffering. The pain and suffering compensation is usually the largest part of overall compensation. You should contact a local attorney for a consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC | Travis Prestwich
    It is possible that the dog owners could be liable. However, you would have to show that they were negligent in controlling the dog in some way. Sometimes situations simply are accidents that are non-compensable.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Riley Law Firm
    Riley Law Firm | Timothy Dennis Riley
    Generally, the owner of the dog could only be held liable if she was negligent in handling the dog. You would also have to prove that the negligent handling of the dog was the reason you fell. In short, liability sounds very unlikely as you have described the event.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney | Patrick M Lamar
    That is an iffy one. Only if the dog was really out of control. I would try filing a claim with the insurance company and see.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Barry Rabovsky & Associates
    Barry Rabovsky & Associates | Barry Rabovsky
    You may have a case, based upon the information that you have supplied.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 7/11/2013
    Law Office of Garrett S. Handy
    Law Office of Garrett S. Handy | Garrett S. Handy
    Yes, under some circumstances, a dog owner will be liable for injuries caused by his/her dog. You likely have claims for strict liability and perhaps negligence (as I assume the dog owner was holding the leash). You may be able to make a claim against the dog owners home owners insurance policy. You should contact a personal injury lawyer to help you with this.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    If the dog owner was negligent, then yes, you can sue. And you have an injury thats definitely worth looking into. Did the dog run behind you other times and you cautioned her about it? Was the dog overly rambunctious and she knew it and did nothing about? Like that is how you can show that she was negligent.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Wilson & Hajek, LLC
    Wilson & Hajek, LLC | Eddie W. Wilson
    Morally the dog owner should pay the expenses, but legally it is a difficult case to prove negligence against the owner. Without a history of lack of control of the dog it doesn't seem that you have a case.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator
    Bernard Huff, Attorney/Mediator | Bernard Huff
    Please contact and consult with a personal injury attorney regarding the dog attack and your resulting injuries.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Ferguson & Ferguson
    Ferguson & Ferguson | Randy W. Ferguson
    yes. They are liable for damages caused by their dog.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Ramunno & Ramunno, P.A.
    Ramunno & Ramunno, P.A. | Lawrence A. Ramunno
    Yes, the owner would be liable for medical expenses, lost wages, as well as, pain and suffering.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A.
    Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
    Yes, a dog owner would be liable under that scenario. Contact a local personal injury lawyer to handle that for you; the dog owner's homeowner's insurance will probably cover it.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Office of Sam Levine, LLC
    Law Office of Sam Levine, LLC | Sam L. Levine
    Maybe. You need to call an attorney in your state to provide greater detail. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    There is a case here. We would need to collect more facts but there is a basis to sue the dog owner.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Offices of H. Christopher Coburn
    Law Offices of H. Christopher Coburn | H. Christopher Coburn
    Yes, from the way you describe it.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Coulter's Law
    Coulter's Law | Coulter K. Richardson
    That is a tough question. A slip and fall is a case of negligence. To prove negligence you must prove a) Duty, b) Breach, c) Cause d) Proximate Cause and e) Damages. I would suspect that most parks require that a dog be leashed so part A is proven. It would appear that the dog leash tripping you is the cause of your injuries. Unless there was an intervening actor, such as the ambulance crashing on the way to the hospital and breaking your arm then proximate cause is proven C and D. It is obvious you were damaged and have bills to prove it and thus E is proven. You have two problems. First, did the dog owner breach her duty to restrain the dog? As a dog owner I train my dogs to walk right next to me while I walk, but sometimes things startle dogs and they can yank on the leash. The mere act of the dog tripping you is not necessarily proof that the dog owner breached her duty to restrain her dog. Second, do you really want to sue your friend? Personally, I would feel awful if my dogs tripped another person and I would do everything I could to help financially, but legally, you have a tough case.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    The dog owner is probably not liable. You would have to show that the owner was negligent, and this appears to be the type accident that could occur despite the dog owner exercising adequate due care for others. However, what acts or omissions constitute negligence is a question for the jury, and reasonable minds might differ in this case.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
    This is an interesting fact pattern. Do you really want to sue your friend for this incident? Technically speaking she probably is responsible and should pay the bills.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Groth Law Firm, S.C.
    Groth Law Firm, S.C. | Jonathan Groth
    Dog owners have a duty to keep control of their dogs. I have tried dog bite cases before juries in Wisconsin and find that people understand that owners of dogs must keep them under control.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Cary J. Wintroub & Associates
    Cary J. Wintroub & Associates | Sheldon J. Aberman
    Yes, and your pain and suffering and disability. Your compensation should be covered by her homeowner/renter coverage.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A.
    Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
    We all have a duty under the law to act reasonably towards one another to avoid causing unnecessary injuries. It is certainly possible that a jury would consider the dog owner's handling of her dog to be negligent, and the cause of your broken arm. The defense would likely be that it was just an accident and/or that you assumed the risk of injury when you decided to hike with someone handling a pet. If you knew the dog was sometimes unruly and/or if the dog owner took reasonable measures to control her dog, a jury may find against you. Or a jury could find you both at fault. In Florida, you could recover whatever percentage of your losses a jury attributes to the dog owner. If she's 60% at fault and you are 40% at fault, she would owe 60% of your total damages. You should ask yourself whether you, sitting on a jury, would hold the dog owner responsible, or you, or both. Try to be objective. If you think based upon all the circumstances that you would be comfortable awarding money against the dog owner if you were on the jury, then I'd say you have a case worth pursuing. As an aside, almost all cases involve these sorts of questions. Juries often spend days deliberating and arguing with each other over just these sorts of things. The only definitive answer comes after a jury trial. Good luck with your situation.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/21/2012
    Allen Murphy Law
    Allen Murphy Law | W. Riley Allen
    Yes, the dog owner could be responsible through the dog owner's homeowner's insurance policy if the dog owner was careless in allowing the dog to run behind you.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi
    Law Offices of Elliott Zarabi | Elliott Zarabi
    I think you should have her cover your bills, your emotional distress, etc.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/11/2013
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC
    Rose, Senders & Bovarnick, LLC | Paul S. Bovarnick
    Yes. If the dog owner negligently failed to control their dog, then they may be liable to you for the damage you suffered, including economic losses and non-economic losses, like pain or the loss of enjoyment of parts of your life.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/30/2011
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC
    Klisz Law Office, PLLC | Timothy J. Klisz
    Yes, this is a good potential case.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/11/2013
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