In California, dog owners are entitled to provide fair compensation to the dog bite victims. This may sound pretty straightforward. However, things tend to get complicated if the dog owner is a tenant and does not have insurance coverage. Even though you may wonder about the landlord liability in such cases, it is a bit complicated.
Determining Liability in Dog Bite Cases
Determining liability is important in any personal injury cases; let alone the case of dog bites. According to California Civil Code, Section 3342, “The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness”.
While this law seems to be a powerful declaration, it will be helpful only if the dog owners are capable of providing compensation for the damages. Usually, most dog owners will have homeowners insurance that provides coverage for dog bites as well. In the case of unfortunate dog bite incidents, the victims can file a claim with the insurance company of the dog owner.
However, the insurance company is likely to blame you to reduce its payout. Note that if the defendant succeeded in proving that you provoked the dog to attack or went to the dog ignoring the warning signs, the compensation that you are entitled to will be reduced accordingly. After all, California boasts a comparative negligence policy. To avoid this, hire the services of a well-versed dog bite lawyer.
In some cases, the dog owner may not have appropriate insurance coverage for dog bites. Unfortunately, most uninsured dog owners will not be able to provide compensation to the victims. In such cases, a credible dog bite attorney will help you to find a party with whom you can share the liability of dog bites. In some cases, it will be your landlord.
However, a clear statute does not exist for landlord liability in case of dog bites and hence, you will need a seasoned dog bite lawyer since the case will be advocated purely based on some factual details. Usually, the landlords are held liable if he/she is already aware of the vicious nature of their tenant’s dog and still, choose not to act. After all, the safety on the visitors on one’s property is their responsibility. However, you can blame the landlord only if he can do something about it.
Note that landlords will have to follow certain etiquette when dealing with their tenants. Firstly, the former could ask the latter to remove the dog either informally or with a formal notice. In case the presence of their tenant’s aggressive dog violates any lease condition, the landlord can start eviction proceedings. Additionally, the landlord can file a report with the animal control authorities nearby.