Is the landlord liable for my dog bite? 22 Answers as of May 25, 2011

My neighbor was bitten by a dog. Another party was subsequently charged at, but not bitten, by the same dog. The landlord was put on notice regarding both incidents but did not have his tenant remove the dog or warn the other tenants in his building. The same dog then bit me. Both bites were serious to each party. Can the landlord be liable?

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Bloom Gates Sigler & Whiteleather, LLP
Bloom Gates Sigler & Whiteleather, LLP | Matthew Shipman
Either the landlord or the dog's owner could be held liable for this dog bite. Depends on a lot of other factors that are not listed in your question. I would contact an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 5/25/2011
Dearbonn Law Offices
Dearbonn Law Offices | Ajibola Oluyemisi Oladapo
both the landlord and the tenant who is the dog owner are responsible for the bites.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 5/10/2011
Wilson & Hajek, LLC
Wilson & Hajek, LLC | Eddie W. Wilson
Yes. The landlord and the owner may be liable.
Answer Applies to: Virginia
Replied: 5/10/2011
Cody and Gonillo, LLP
Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
Not usually. It would be the owner or keeper.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 5/9/2011
William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law
William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law | William C. Gosnell
You must sue both the dog owner and the landlord and let a judge or jury decide.
Answer Applies to: Tennessee
Replied: 5/9/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    You may have a legitimate claim. The higher odds claim is against the dog owner, but I could see where you would have a higher probability of actually recovering a judgment from the landlord. Several years ago, a friend and I tried one to a verdict of $40K, plus, but we were asking for six figures. The defendant was both the land owner and dog owner. However under your facts, I think you would have a chance of recovery against the land owner who knew about the hazardous animal, but failed to warn against it. In our case, the client was satisfied. I think she felt vindicated because the jury believed her. Of course damages vary from case to case, and jury to jury. Factors include the amount of psychological trauma/treatment, the permanency of injury/ scarring and the extent of injury. Stay well.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 5/9/2011
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo
    Law Office of Mark J. Leonardo | Mark Leonardo
    There are two statutes that deal with dog bites, both impose liability on the owner of the dog, Civil Code sections 3342 and 3342.5. But the law does impose a liability on a landlord that has knowledge of a dogs viciousness: Dangerous animals: A landlord who is aware that a tenant is keeping a vicious animal on the premises and who has the power to remedy the condition may be liable to third persons injured by the animal. But a broader duty is owed by landowners who remain in complete possession of the property and thus have an unrestrained right to oversee and control what happens on the premises: In these circumstances, the landowner owes a duty to protect invitees from dangerous animals on the property, even without actual knowledge of any danger, where the risk of harm is foreseeable, and the landowner has the ability to reduce or eliminate the risk with minimal burden. [See Salinas v. Martin (2008) 166 CA4th 404, 413416, 82 CR3d 735, 741744;] Dangerous conditions and activities on premises: As a general rule, landlords who lease their property to tenants in a safe condition have no ongoing duty to inspect for dangers in the unit. Ordinarily, therefore, landlords cannot be held liable to third parties injured by tenants conducting a dangerous activity on their rental property. [See Mata v. Mata (2003) 105 CA4th 1121, 1131, 130 CR2d 141, 148Because a landlord has relinquished possessory interest in the land, his or her duty of care to third parties injured on the land is attenuated as compared with the tenant who enjoys possession and control; Bisetti v. United Refrigeration Corp. (1985) 174 CA3d 643, 651, 220 CR 209, 213214; but see 6:26.5a, 6:26.6 re ongoing liability for certain dangerous conditions on abutting public streets and sidewalks] On the other hand, a landlord who has knowledge of a dangerous activity on the premises or of a tenant's dangerous propensities has a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent the risk of harm to others. Failure to do so exposes the landlord to liability provided he or she had the right and ability to cure the condition ( 6:85). [Mata v. Mata, supra, 105 CA4th at 11311132, 130 CR2d at 148; Laico v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc. (2004) 123 CA4th 649, 661, 20 CR3d 307, 314; Uccello v. Laudenslayer (1975) 44 CA3d 504, 512, 118 CR 741, 746] Dangerous animals: A landlord who is aware that a tenant is keeping a vicious animal on the premises and who has the power to remedy the condition (i.e., by removal of the animal or eviction of the tenant) may be liable to third persons injured by the animal. [Uccello v. Laudenslayer, supra, 44 CA3d at 512, 514, 118 CR at 746, 748minor child visiting premises attacked by tenant's vicious dog; Donchin v. Guerrero (1995) 34 CA4th 1832, 18381839, 41 CR2d 192, 196plaintiff attacked by tenant's vicious dogs about 4 blocks from landlord's premises; see also Yuzon v. Collins (2004) 116 CA4th 149, 163, 10 CR3d 18, 29; Martinez v. Bank of America Nat'l Trust & Sav. Ass'n (2000) 82 CA4th 883, 890892, 98 CR2d 576, 581583] By analogy, the same holds true for a subsequent landowner acquiring the property through foreclosure but who does not have possession or control of the property. [Martinez v. Bank of America Nat'l Trust & Sav. Ass'n, supra, 82 CA4th at 890891, 98 CR2d at 581582Bank not liable for death of plaintiff's child attacked by former owners' guard dogs on property acquired by Bank through foreclosure but still occupied by former owners where Bank had no knowledge of dangerous dogs and no ability to prevent dangerous condition] Residential premiseslandlord's actual knowledge required: Apparently, at least in regard to ordinary domestic pets, the landlord's actual knowledge of the animal's dangerous propensities is required; constructive knowledge will not suffice.

    Thus, residential landlords have no duty to inspect the premises for purposes of discovering the existence of a tenant's dangerous animal. [Uccello v. Laudenslayer, supra, 44 CA3d at 514, 118 CR at 748; see also Chee v. Amanda Goldt Property Management (2006) 143 CA4th 1360, 13691370, 50 CR3d 40, 47; Martinez v. Bank of America Nat'l Trust & Sav. Ass'n, supra, 82 CA4th at 891892, 98 CR2d at 582same rule applicable to foreclosing bank that did not have possession or control of property] Thus, if you can prove that the landlord had knowledge of these prior dog bites, you stand a good chance of imposing liability on the landlord.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/9/2011
    Premier Law Group
    Premier Law Group | Jason Epstein
    With the facts as you've described them, it is possible that the landlord could be held liable for the injuries caused by the dog of one of his tenants. You really need to speak to an experienced injury lawyer as soon as possible.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/9/2011
    Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm
    Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm | Francis Hajek
    For an overview of dog bite law in Virginia, you will want to visit the Wilson & Hajek website and read the articles posted on on dog bite issues. Your question adds another dimension to the usual fact pattern and question about whether a dog's owner can be held liable for an injury. You ask if a landlord who has knowledge of a tenant's dangerous dog can be held liable for an injury. A landlord had a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of his tenants. So, I think the answer to the question depends on the facts. I need to know where the accident happened, who was there, what led to the bite and other facts specific to the incident. I suggest a consultation with an experienced injury attorney to determine how all the facts are analyzed under Virginia law.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    David F. Stoddard
    David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
    The tenant would be liable. Whether the landlord would be liable as well depends on whether the landlord had a right and a duty to remove the dog. As to the right to remove the dog, you would have to refer t the lease agreement if there is one, and see what kinds of things would be a violation of the lease, and whether the dog comes within any of the lease violations. Landlords have duty to keep the premises safe and habitable. This usually means following all applicable codes. There may be no duty to remove a dog such as this. Although liability may not be clear, it is probably worth pursuing if the injury is serious. Liability has been found in analogous situations at hotels where a guest is attacked, and the hotel was on notice that acts of violence are frequent in the are and fails to take appropriate precautions for guests. I do not know if this same reasoning has been extended to Landlord Tenant relationships.
    Answer Applies to: South Carolina
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Tomalas Law Firm
    Tomalas Law Firm | Ryan Tomalas
    This is a difficult question to answer without more information. The dog owner is almost certainly liable, and based on what you have provided, there may be a theory of liability against the landlord (but again, significantly more fact will be needed to make a prper determination). Dog bite cases can be quite complex, especially in light of the emotional/psychological aspect of dog bites and the potential for long term/permanent scaring. Please keep in mind that the "value" of your potential claim is not limited to the medical bills which have been incurred, but rather will take into account the numerous ways this incident may impact your life. We have handled hundreds of dog bite cases and are extremely experienced in this area of the law. Please visit the dog bite resource center on our web site for detailed information on your rights and how we may be able to help you; or feel free to call our office for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
    It is doubtful that you can hold the landlord liable, but contact a dog bite attorney who will be able to advise you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC
    Law Office of Travis Prestwich, PC | Travis Prestwich
    Yes. Oregon previously had a "one-bite" rule, meaning that the dog was given one bite before the owner was placed on notice of the dog's tendencies. Now an owner can be held liable even if there were no previous incident. In your case, the owner had notice of the dog's problems and would be liable to you.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Allegretti & Associates
    Allegretti & Associates | James L. Allegretti
    As a general rule the landlord would not be liable under the facts you presented. The liable party is the dog owner. I assume that there is nothing in your lease regarding the landlords duty regarding pets.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney
    Patrick M Lamar Attorney | Patrick M Lamar
    If the landlord had the ability to remove the dog from the premises and was on notice I believe a negligence claim might be possible.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    David B. Sacks, P.A.
    David B. Sacks, P.A. | David Sacks
    If it was reasonable for the landlord to demand that the dog be removed and the landlord did not take such action, the landlord could easily be liable for you being bitten, along of course with the owner. But if the landlord took all reasonable steps to remove the dangerous condition, i.e. the dog, then he/she may not be liable. It would probably be a jury question. You can feel free to contact me to further discuss the issues.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Ramunno & Ramunno, P.A.
    Ramunno & Ramunno, P.A. | Lawrence A. Ramunno
    I doubt that you will be able to establish enough evidence to prove the landlord had a duty to protect you which in turn caused the incident to occur. But you should discuss with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A.
    Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
    Possibly. It might depend on whether there was any provision in the lease about harboring animals or the restraint of pets.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Rothstein Law PLLC
    Rothstein Law PLLC | Eric Rothstein
    Yes. A landlord can be liable if it had notice of a dog's vicious propensity. I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle personal injury cases so feel free to contact me to discuss your case.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/6/2011
    Law Offices of Joseph I. Lipsky, P.A.
    Law Offices of Joseph I. Lipsky, P.A. | Joseph Lipsky
    Sorry to hear of your being attacked. Generally speaking, the owner of the dog is strictly liable for all personal injuries caused by the dog. As for your landlord's liability, the specific facts of your situation, including how the landlord was on notice of the prior attacks, and the makeup of the apartment complex you live, need to be discussed in greater detail with an experienced personal injury attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 5/6/2011
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