If you have been bitten by a dog, do you know who is liable for your injuries? This can often be confusing if the dog wasn't on a leash or ownership of the dog isn't clear-cut. Here are tips to help you determine who might be responsible for a dog biting you.
The Dog's Owner Or Keeper
The first person that is probably liable for a dog bite is the dog's owner. However, it may also be the keeper if the owner was not around when the bite occurred. The keeper of a dog is someone that has custody, control, or care of a dog. For example, if you were bitten by a dog when the owner was out of town and the dog sitter was home, but failed to keep the dog on a leash, that dog sitter might be responsible for the bite.
The person responsible could also be a keeper that isn't there at the time of the bite. For example, if a dog escapes from an animal shelter due to negligence on the shelter's part, the shelter's owner might be responsible. They aren't the dog's owner, but they are responsible for the dog. If the dog bit you, you might be able to sue the animal shelter for inadequate keeping of the dogs. Since these types of rules can vary based on where you live, it is important to know the dog biting laws in your area specifically.
Parents Of A Dog Owner
In some cases, the dog is owned by a minor, who is responsible for supervising and caring for their pet. In this case, you would most likely hold their parents or guardians responsible, instead of the child. The parents of a minor are usually held responsible for negligence on their child's part. This may include dog bites. Even though it is the child's dog, the parents are typically considered keepers of the dog, since they provide the shelter and most likely buy the food. The child takes care of the dog, but the parents are the adults and therefore the responsible party.
If someone allows a dog to stay on their property, and they take care of that dog, they could be considered a "harborer" of the dog. This may make them liable since they are choosing to allow the dog to remain on their property, though they aren't necessarily a dog owner or a keeper of the dog. The rule can get complicated when harborers of dogs are concerned, so you should consult a personal injury attorney like Sarkisian, Sarkisian & Associates PC to find out for sure.
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