Is a Pet Sitter Liable for a Dog Attack?

Categories: Dog Attacks

A dog bite wound on a patient's left leg.

Typically, a dog sitter could be held responsible for a dog attack or bite. The law does not only hold owners of the animal responsible when injuries occur. Instead, leeway is given for special circumstances just like this one. When someone is in control or responsible for an animal, they assume all responsibility if that animal were to harm another person.

Therefore, if you were attacked by a dog well under a pet sitter’s supervision, you may be able to hold that person responsible for your injuries. The circumstances for how that party was hired, and the dog owner’s actions will determine all parties you could name in a lawsuit.

Over the past few years, dog walking and sitting services have become an ideal option for pet owners. Some owners will hire a neighbor or friend to walk or care for their dog while they are out of town, too. Regardless of whether you have a professional or just a neighbor watching the dog, that person is ultimately responsible if the dog harms anyone while under their care.

How the Dog Sitter’s Status Plays a Role

Dog owners are typically liable for injuries their pets cause to others. When a caretaker is involved, they too can be liable for those injuries. Local and state laws often determine which party, if not both, can be held responsible.

There are instances where the dog’s owner would still be liable even if they had a party watching the animal at the time. To determine which parties are at fault, your attorney would need to consider the status of the dog sitter and the control the pet’s owner still had over the situation.

Was the Dog Sitter under the Age of 18?

One of the biggest factors is the age of the dog sitter. If the sitter is under the age of 18, then the dog’s owner may still be responsible for any actions of their animals while the dog sitter would not be held responsible.

What Is the Age of the Owner?

Another factor is the age of the dog owner. If the owner of the animal is a minor, then the parents or guardians of that minor would be responsible for injuries caused by the animal.

Was the Sitter a Professional Service?

There are numerous dogs sitting services out there today that operate as a professional service. They have business licenses and even carry liability insurance. If the dog sitter was from a professional service, they hold a higher standard of care because they advertise themselves as professionals. Owners contract and pay these services to watch their pets and protect them. When a professional service is involved, the company itself may be liable for any neglect on behalf of their employees.

Was the Dog’s Owner Present?

A pet sitter maybe at the scene of the accident, but what about the owner? If the owner is present at the time of the attack, even if the pet sitter is holding the leash of the animal, the owner may be considered responsible instead of the dog sitter.

Did the Owner Know about the Threat? What about the Sitter?

If the dog’s owner knew that their dog was a liability or likely to harm someone, they must take steps to protect the public from injury. Not only should they notify the pet sitter of the risk, but then they need to train that pet sitter on all of the protective measures they have in place to keep the dog away from the public.

When a dog’s owner knows that their pet is a liability and they do not take any steps to prevent injury, or they do not notify the pet sitter of those risks, the court might find the owner liable instead of the pet sitter.

If, however, the pet sitter was aware of the risk and did not do anything to protect the public, they could be held liable instead.

Determining Liability Is Never as Easy as It Seems in a Dog Attack

As you can see, determining liability in a dog attack case is never as straightforward as it seems. Numerous factors play a role in determining which party is liable and, sometimes, more than one party can be held at fault for a dog attack.

The only way to truly know who is at fault for a vicious attack is to hire an attorney with experience in dog attack cases. An attorney will begin investigating right away for not only the cause of the attack, but also which parties are liable for it happening. Furthermore, an attorney will work hard to seek maximum compensation and ensure that their client receives the coverage they need for losses that include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical costs
  • Personal property damage
  • Emotional and mental trauma
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Surgeries, including plastic or reconstructive surgery
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning capacity

If you or a loved one was viciously attacked by an animal – regardless of who was in control of them at the time – the law allows you to seek compensation for your injuries and financial losses. While no amount of money can erase the trauma you have suffered, the law offers compensation to make you and your family financially whole once again.

To explore your options, schedule a free case evaluation right away with attorney, Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. Discuss your dog attack case by calling his office or by completing an online contact form.