Robert Mazow talks about how to identify the responsible party in a dog bite case. He explains how people other than the owner may be held liable.
So who might be responsible in a dog bite situation? Well, the owner of the dog is always going to be ultimately responsible for any harm that that dog might cause. And in Massachusetts, that’s called strict liability. The owner of a dog is always responsible for any harm that that dog might cause.
You do not need to prove that the dog owner was negligent. You just have to prove that the person owned the dog at the time of the bite or the attack. But who else might be responsible?
Well, a dog keeper might be responsible. Let’s say you own a dog and you go to work and you hire somebody to come in and walk the dog. Well, when that dog walker is out caring for that dog, he or she is considered the keeper of the dog. And if the dog causes harm, bites somebody, attacks somebody, that dog keeper is also responsible.
Who else might be responsible? Well, let’s say a landlord rents to somebody who has a dog with a dangerous propensity. In other words, the dog is a dangerous dog or has bitten before and the landlord still allows the dog to be in the home. If that dog causes harm, you could possibly bring a negligence claim against the landlord for knowingly allowing that dog to remain at the premises.
Another example, let’s say you give your child a dog for a birthday present and the child is a minor and that dog causes harm. Well, the parents could also be responsible for any damages that that dog might cause. So it’s not just the owner of the dog that’s responsible, it could be anybody who has control or is keeping the dog at the time.