When Are You Responsbile For Your Dog Biting Someone?
As a dog owner, you're legally responsible for everything your dog does. Since he isn't a person and doesn't have any money, the courts will look to you to pay for any damage he causes. This includes if he bites someone. Here's when you may have to pay up for a dog bite.
In Your Home
Your dog is supposed to be secured in your home when not otherwise under your control, so you will receive the greatest benefit of the doubt when your dog bites someone in your home. The key test is why the person who was bitten was inside of your home.
A burglar has essentially no protection from dog bites. A reasonable person can expect to be bitten if a home they are breaking into has a dog, and a homeowner has no reasonable expectation that there will be a stranger inside of their home who needs protecting from their dog.
Someone in your home for a business purpose, like a cable repairman, has a little more protection. Generally, you either need to make sure your dog behaves or shut it in another room. However, if the cable guy opens a door without your permission or ignores a warning you gave him, he probably won't be able to sue you.
House guests have even more protection. This is because there's a greater expectation that they might go into another room or into your yard without warning. Introduce them to your dog or make sure they are clear on how to avoid it.
In Your Yard
Your yard is treated similarly to your home with one key difference. There is an expectation that strangers might go into your yard to check your utility meters, repair a cable line, or retrieve a ball thrown over your fence.
To protect yourself from legally liability, you need to post signs warning that you have a dog so that strangers who might be able to lawfully enter your yard know to knock on your door or call you first.
Away From Home
If you're off your property, you're responsible for almost any dog bites unless you or your dog is attacked. To avoid liability, follow local leash laws and make sure your dog has undergone proper obedience training.
To learn more about the law on dog bites and how to protect yourself from a personal injury claim, contact a local personal injury attorney like Otorowski Johnston Morrow & Golden P.L.L.C.