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What Happens If a Dog Bites Someone on Your Property?

Posted in Our Blog on September 27, 2019

Dogs may be a favored pet in New Orleans, but these animals can attack and seriously injure other humans. While the dog’s owner is primarily responsible for the actions of his or her pet, the property owner where the attack occurs may share a portion of the liability. However, what happens if an unattended dog bites another person on property you own? Do you have to pay for the injured person’s damages?

Liability for Property Owners in Dog Bite Cases

If you own a property in Louisiana, you have a duty of care to prevent injuries to people who visit you. Anyone from friends to neighbors to coworkers who visit your home, or utility workers who provide services, receive protections under premises liability laws. If someone brings a dangerous dog onto your property, you may be liable for any injuries that this dog may cause.

You have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent the animal from injuring anyone. These steps can include placing a muzzle on the animal, keeping it in a safe, secure location, and warning visitors that the dog could be dangerous.

If the dog does injure someone on your property and you did not take reasonable steps to prevent this injury, the victim could hold you liable for his or her medical expenses. This liability applies for first-time bites from the dog or attacks that are not as serious.

However, you may not always know that a dog is dangerous, especially if it doesn’t belong to you. If you knew or should have known that the dog was dangerous, you may also be liable for the lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages that the victim suffers from the bite. If you did not know the dog was dangerous, you will likely only have to pay for the medical expenses.

Liability for Dog Owners in Dog Bite Cases

You may wonder if the owner could share a portion of the liability, since the dog does not belong to you. There are several situations in which you could shift the liability onto the owner or share a portion of fault, depending on the circumstances of the attack.

  • If the attack happened on your property but you did not know that the dog was on your property, i.e. the owner was walking the animal and the attack occurred on your lawn, you may be able to reduce or remove your liability. You did not know that the animal was there and could not have taken steps to prevent injury to the victim.
  • If the owner did not inform you that the dog was dangerous when he or she brought it onto your property, you may not be liable for the attack. The owner should have informed you of the danger that the dog posed, and you could not have reasonably known that the animal would injure someone. Instead, the owner would likely take the liability.
  • If you tried to take steps to protect visitors from the animal but the owner disobeyed or did not allow you to restrain his or her animal, you could reduce your liability. You could show that you attempted to restrain the dog and provide evidence showing that the owner was negligent in his or her handling of the animal. In these situations, you could significantly reduce your portion of the liability.
  • You could share the liability with the owner if you both knew that the dog was dangerous and both failed to protect the victim from the animal. As a result, you can reduce the amount of compensation you personally owe to the victim, splitting the burden with the owner instead.

If a dog bit someone on your property and the animal did not belong to you, you may be able to protect yourself against liability accusations. However, you will need an attorney on your side to assist with your claim. Your dog bite attorney can review security footage, interview witnesses and experts, and enter into negotiations on your behalf. Contact a Louisiana dog bite lawyer as soon as possible to begin the investigation and to build a compelling claim disproving your share of liability.