Can I Sue My Landlord After Being Bitten by a Tenant's Dog?

More than 6.5 million people are living in apartments in California alone. That’s more than 17% of the state population. Considering the cost of owning a home, more and more people opt for renting their living space. Because people are living in closer quarters in an apartment than in an owned-residency neighborhood, there also tend to be more incidents related to contact with fellow apartment dwellers. One example of this is encountering pets. While not all apartment complexes allow pets, the ones that do usually house many types of domestic animals, such as dogs, cats, and reptiles. And with increased numbers comes increased chance of an accident.

For example, if you live in an apartment complex of 5 people, only one of which has a dog, you’re not incredibly likely to encounter the dog often enough for it to be a problem. However, if you live in an apartment complex of 20 people, and 20% of them also have a dog, that’s 5 more dogs to worry about in the same amount of space.

Many people are very responsible about keeping their dogs away from other people, particularly if they’re not well socialized. But accidents happen on a regular basis. If a dog manages to escape its owner’s hold and bites you, who would be responsible for your medical care? Logic may dictate that if an accident occurs on a person’s property, that person is liable. Therefore, if your landlord owns your apartment building, would he or she be responsible?

The answer is actually no. While your landlord may own the property, the dog’s owner is the one who would be held accountable. There are only two ways a landlord would be responsible for your dog-bite injury:

  • If he/she knew the dog was dangerous and allowed it to stay
  • If he/she was in charge of the dog while the owner was away

In order for your landlord to be held liable, you and your lawyer would have to prove the landlord knew, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the dog was dangerous and failed to remove the dog. If you can prove their liability, the landlord would be responsible for paying punitive damages in addition to any amount needed for your medical care and time missed from work.

If you would like to begin legal proceedings against your landlord for a dog bite you sustained on their property, contact one of our San Bernardino dog bite attorneys at (909) 764-3335 or fill out our online form. You deserve compensation for your injuries.


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