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An Unsupervised Dog Bit Me. Can the Owners Be Held Liable?

Dog BiteThe short answer to the question is yes. The owner of a dog is liable for the dog bite as he or she is considered the keeper of the pet. If the dog gets loose and bites someone, the owner has failed in his or her duties to keep the dog secure at all times and prevent it from being a menace-at-large. But dog bites aren't always that simple. There are different definitions over who has control of the dog, and depending on the circumstances, the person may not be liable for what the dog did to someone. Following is a look into how the law defines control and liability on the part of dog owners.

Keepers, Owners and Harborers

Harboring a dog means holding onto the dog on a temporary basis, and shelters can also be considered the keeper or owner. Owning a dog tends to refer to a long-term act on the part of the owner. That is, the person who takes the dog into their home and takes an interest in its quality of life is considered the owner. An owner intends to keep the dog for its natural life and see to its care. Therefore, the owner has responsibility for the actions of the dog, and must see to it that all reasonable attempts are made to keep the dog under control.

Keepers have similar, if temporary responsibilities, and harborers are considered to give shelter for a longer period of time, but still temporary. An owner has the ultimate responsibility for the actions taken by his or her dog. That is, if the dog bites someone, the owner is responsible, no ifs, ands or buts.

The owner had a duty to prevent the dog from harming others and failed. The same goes for someone who is a keeper. A dog groomer who is bit by the dog they are grooming cannot sue the owner, as the owner passed temporary custody to the groomer. The dog groomer is a keeper and takes on the responsibility for keeping the dog, even if only for a short while. A homeowner who lets a roommate keep dogs is a harborer, and again, takes on the responsibility. The only time someone does not take responsibility for a dog bite is when he or she is a visitor or a guest, and let the dog out as a favor to the owner, keeper or harborer.

Exploring Legal Options After Being Bitten by a Dog

Consider talking to a lawyer about what legal options are available after an incident such as this. The mere act of being bitten is against the law, and the owner can be given a citation for the actions of his or her dog. It also opens up the possibility of a civil lawsuit over the damages incurred by the dog. If you or a loved one have been hurt in an accident or intentionally, and feel the someone may be at fault, please contact an experienced California personal injury attorney at the law firm of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard for a consultation today at (408) 289-1417.

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