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who should be held liable for a dog bite injury? Who Should Be Held Liable For A Dog Bite Injury? dog 1861839 1920 300x199
If someone has control over a dog, even if they do not own it, they can be held liable for a dog bite injury resulting from their negligence. Typically, a dog owner is usually held responsible for a dog bite injury but someone else can also be held accountable if:

  1. The dog was on another person’s property and the person was negligent in removing it.
  2. The dog owner’s landlord knew the dog was dangerous but did not do anything to keep the dog away from the public.
  3. The owner of the dog is less than 18 years old.
  4. Someone else other than the owner was controlling the dog.

Who Is Liable For Your Dog Bite Injury?

In states such as Alaska, Georgia or Texas where the one-bite-rule applies, a person who keeps or owns a dog is just as liable as the legal owner of the dog if the dog attacks someone. This rule does not, however, apply in Massachusetts or Rhode Island.

Harboring and keeping a dog are two different things. Harboring, means givingshelter or refuge to a dog for a limited period of time. Keeping a dog, means giving shelter, taking care of, managing and controlling the dog for a significant amount of time.

A dog can have more than one owner so you can hold more than one person liable for your dog bite injury. For instance, if you leave your dog with a friend for a few months, and during that time the dog bites someone, your friend will be held responsible for any injuries because she will be considered the dog’s “keeper” at the time the incident happened. However, since you are still the owner of the dog, you too may be held responsible for the injuries.


If the owner of the dog is less than 18 years old, the parents to the child will be held responsible for your dog bite injury. The court is likely to rule that since the dog is on their premises and they give it food and shelter, then they are liable because they are the dog’s “keepers”.

Family Members

This is a complicated area and in most instances, children cannot sue their parents for negligence. Many states have adopted the “parental immunity” doctrine. It’s believed that this would prevent disruption of family harmony if children were allowed to sue parents for negligence. However, this immunity is not absolute.

For instance, you can sue family members for dog bite injuries inflicted on a toddler, after the family dog bites her severely. Parents have a duty as owners of the dog to keep their dog from causing injury to anyone including their own child. In this case, “parental immunity” does not make the parents immune. If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog, you should contact your lawyer as soon as possible.

Property Owner

Anyone who lets a dog stay on their property can be held liable for a dog bite injury. For example, if a store owner lets shoppers tie dogs outside their stores, and a person is bit on their way inside, the store owner can be held liable for any resulting injuries.


Your legal options may be limited if a dog bites you while you are on the job. In some circumstances, you may be allowed to file for workers’ compensation claim.

Negligent Behavior

Trying to determine whether a person was negligent or not, is an issue that should be based solely on facts. The big question should be “did the owner of the dog act reasonably given the situation?”

For instance, if a dog owner chained his dog in an unfenced front yard and put a “beware of dog” sign, but you walk up to the dog and get bitten, you cannot say that the dog owner was negligent. Chaining the dog to the fence and putting up a sign indicates that the owner acted reasonably.

Hiring a Providence Dog Bite Attorney

We specialize specifically in personal injury cases and we can help you get a fair settlement. Getting attacked and bitten by a dog can be traumatizing. Dog bites can lead to serious infections and injuries. We can help you get compensation while still protecting your rights. If you have been bitten by a dog, contact one of our Providence dog bite attorneys at 401-751-0101 or visit our Kevin P Landry offices in Providence for a free initial consultation.