Am I Responsible if my Dog Bites Someone on My Property
If you are in an owner occupied or rental property and you have dogs, you may ask yourself, “am i responsible if my dog bites someone on my property?” The short answer is most likely yes but this can vary depending on your state laws and when the accident occured. For example, in Colorado, there is a 2 year statutes of limitation that gives the victim 2 years from the date of the bite to file a lawsuit within the state’s civil court. If the lawsuit is filed after the 2 years, the court can and will throw out the case without hearing it.
Most states use either a “strict liability” or a “negligence” rule for dog bite cases. If your dog bites someone and causes death or serious injury, most states use the strict liability rule. If your dog bites someone or even just knocks down a person, and it is not a serious or deadly one, most states then use the negligence rule.
There are also some states that use the “one bite” law which states that the owner of the dog is held liable when the dog bites only if they have knowledge that the dog has bitten before or knows the dog has vicious propensities. For example, let’s say your dog bites someone for the first time. Then, a few days later, your dog bites another person. In a “one bite” state, unless you were negligent, you may not be liable for the first bite but most likely you would be liable for the second since you dog has already bitten someone.
How Can Renters Protect Themselves from Dog Bites?
The first thing you need to do is to take as many precautions as you can to help eliminate the possibility of your dog biting someone.
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times in a public area
- Speak to your landlord about making sure the fence is high-enough and all holes are filled. (You may have to pay for this)
- Get Insurance
- Make sure your renters insurance covers dog bites
- Check the breed of your dog. In some cases, insurance companies and even landlords will not insure or allow “dangerous” breeds of dogs.