Who is liable for a dog bite?

dog teeth

A dog’s owner is typically legally responsible for the actions of their dog such as damage or injury they may cause. Someone else may also be liable if any of the following statements are true:

  • Someone other than the owner was taking care of and had control over the dog.
  • The owner’s landlord knew the dog was dangerous and didn’t do anything about it.
  • The dog was on someone else’s property and that person was negligent for not removing the dog.

Keepers and harborers of dogs can also be liable as the legal owner of a dog if it causes injury. Harboring a dog means you are giving shelter or refuge to the dog. Keeping a dog is defined as when you take care, custody and control of the dog.

Some courts have certain rules about keeping or harboring a dog. A dog may have more than one owner and in that case, more than one person may be liable if the dog injures someone.

If someone under the age of 18 owns and cares for the dog, then that minor’s parents are legally liable instead of the minor. The “parental immunity” doctrine states children cannot sue their parents for negligence. Sometimes the lawsuit can be more complicated if not based on negligence but instead on a dog-bite statute.

If you let a stray dog onto your property then you may be liable for injury the dog may cause.

When a dog injures you at work, then you may not have many legal options. Most of the time, you cannot sue but may be able to file a workers compensation claim.