Could You Hold Housemates Responsible for Dog Attacks?

Categories: Dog Bites

housemates and dog attack

Dogs are common in households throughout the country. As a dog owner, you are responsible for the dog’s actions. Therefore, if your dog were to bite someone, you could be liable for the injuries and damages.

When you live in a household that has dogs, you are likely  liable for the bites and attacks – even if you do not own those dogs. In fact, a recent New York decision ruled that the dog’s owner’s housemates were equally responsible for the actions of the dog, even if they were not the registered owners of the dog.

Determining Who Let the Dogs Out

In this particular case, there were three housemates and three dogs residing in the home. The three dogs belonged to just one housemate, but the other two housemates were responsible for feeding them, taking them outside, cleaning up, and caring for them when their owner was gone.

One dog escaped the backyard and attacked a small boy. The boy was able to escape, but the boy had partially amputated ears as a result of the attack. Plastic surgery was required to repair the damage.

In this case, the boy’s mother sued all three housemates. In her suit, she claimed that all three were aware of the dog’s vicious nature; therefore, all three were liable for the attack, even if only one owned the three dogs. This is because liability in a dog attack extends beyond ownership. It also involves those harboring and caring for the dog.

What is Harboring?

In this case, the judge did not specify what he considered harboring in regard to pet care. He did, however, indicate that by making the dog part of the home, and taking care of the dog, all three housemates participated in harboring the animal. This means that all three are liable.

Pet Sitters and Roommates Can be Liable, Too

When a dog attack occurs, a skilled attorney will look for all potential parties to name in the lawsuit. While the dog’s owner is the first and natural choice, there are instances (just like this case) where another party may be liable.

Anyone who harbors or cares for the dog may have reason to suspect vicious behavior. Therefore, housemates would know if a dog has a preponderance to attack, and if it posed a danger to society. Because they allowed a dangerous animal outside, they are liable for the injuries and damages.

This is a lesson for all roommates. If a roommate’s dog is nice indoors, that does not mean that the roommate should trust the dog outside alone. Keeping an eye on the dog and remaining proactive is the best way for housemates to avoid liability. If they suspect the dog to be a danger to society, they must notify the dog’s owner and take actions to prevent injury.

When owners, caretakers, sitters, and housemates do not act appropriately to protect society from vicious dogs, they are liable in civil court.

Injured by a Dog? Contact a Pennsylvania Dog Bite Attorney

If you have been injured by a dog, contact Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. to explore your options. He can assess your case, look for all potential parties to name in the suit, and work as your advocate so that you receive the compensation deserved.

Schedule a consultation by calling the office at 800-465-8795 or 215-987-3550 or his cell at 215-771-0430. You may also complete his online contact form for a consultation.