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liability for dog attack on trespasser Animal Injury, Dog Bite

Discussion in 'Accidents, Injuries, Negligence' started by starfish11040, May 6, 2010.

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  1. starfish11040

    starfish11040 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My tenant often keeps his dog in the backyard. Whenever someone needs access to the backyard we inform the tenant and he makes sure the dog is securely inside. Recently a cable technician was called for service by someone in the adjacent building. The technician climbed over the fence from that backyard into the yard of my building. Without any authorization. Luckily the dog happened to be inside, and the tenant noticed the technician in the backyard. The tenant got very angry because if the dog had been in the yard, the technician could have been attacked and possibly seriously injured.

    My question is: If that had happened, would the tenant and me, as the owner of the building, be legally liable for the injuries to the technician? In other words, does the fact that the technician entered a private area of the property without permission nullify any liability?
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If anyone is injured on your property, you have legal exposure.
    Every set of facts is different.
    Every intruder is viewed in a different light.
    But, YOU know the dog to be dangerous.
    YOU are allowing him to do it.
    You could be seen as contributorily negligent.
    YOU must make him cease this dangerous practice.
    City ordinances often prohibit this anyway.
    That could change the whole picture.
    This why smart, proactive landlords prohibit almost any type of activity that could get them sued.
    Even if you win, you are out attorney's fees.
    Signs don't eliminate liability either.
    Better to control the dog owner and his canine beast, than be sued.
     
  3. FlaRiptide

    FlaRiptide New Member

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    Why not? They give appropriate warning. Just because a dog may potentially bite, does not make it dangerous and/or vicious.

    I would agree with you if the dog was a pit bull tied to a chain. But this was probably an ordinary everyday dog. How on earth can an owner be contributorily negligent for allowing a dog to be a dog?

    My dogs would never harm anyone, yet I realize they are "animals" and can NEVER be 100% trusted. Therefore I take the necessary precautions. I would expect that those precautions are met by having them contained in my fully fenced back yard with signage of the dogs presence on all locked gates. All service technicians have been notified too.

    Does this not represent trespass? The cable technician may have an inherent right to a service access, yet I would not believe climbing over a fence would be an acceptable means of access.

    I would think FENCE plus SIGNAGE would negate any liability. It's not like a lion or other dangerous animal was being contained in a neighborhood backyard. It was a dog and dogs are prone to biting people when their territory is invaded.

    What if the homeowner had been sunbathing in her/his backyard and the technician gingerly jumped the fence? Would this not be invasion of privacy?

    Granted, it would help considerably if the landlord advised the cable company that a dog is present and advance notice for access is required.

    I agree each and every case could and would be handled differently. Yet, based upon the question posed by Starfish I find it hard to believe that he/she would be liable in the given situation.

    Army, you are the attorney/expert, thus I question for more detail. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2010
  4. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Why?
    Because it's the law.
    There are cases where burglars have sued (and won) for being bitten while committing a burglary of the premises!!!
     
  5. FlaRiptide

    FlaRiptide New Member

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    And my faith in the legal system just diminished greatly!!

    Could you please point me to a few of these cases where I could read about it? I'd love to try and understand the "legal" intent.

    There should be a "Stand your Ground" law for dogs. :dgrin
     
  6. FlaRiptide

    FlaRiptide New Member

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    I would assume that having a pet dog in your personal backyard would also not be considered extreme and outrageous?

    MECH v. HEARST CORPORATION, 64 Md. App. 422; 496 A.2d 1099 (1985):The court held that the standard of care required of owners and occupiers of land with respect to an individual on their land was determined by the individual's status while on the property, i.e. whether he was an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. The court found that injured party, who was looking for an inexpensive place to park her car, was trespasser on the land belonging to property owner, which was not a parking lot, but instead was a truck garage facility. Thus, the standard of care applicable to injured party was a minimal obligation to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring or entrapping the person once his presence was known. The court found that property owner's use of a guard dog was not so extreme and outrageous as to be characterized as willful or wanton, and, therefore, a directed verdict was properly entered on the negligence count. Further, because injured party was a trespasser and because she could not recover for negligence, injured party could not recover on her strict liability claim, either.
     
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Here's a few silly examples, illustrating what people sue and win over.

    You're free to GOOGLE for more.




    "My father explained a case to me, in which a burglar broke into a family's house and the owner sent his dog after the thief. The dog attacked and injured the burglar. The burglar then sued the owner of the dog for being attacked and hurt."

    "...people who put up beware of dog signs are still getting sued when their dog bites a trespasser. I think this is ridiculous. The courts argue that if a person puts up a sign that person knows his dog is mean, therefore that person is liable if the dog bites someone. Even a burglar can sue if he is bitten by a dog. That even makes less sense because the dog is defending his home. Isn't that why some owners get a dog. Where does the responsibility lie?"
    Kim Johnson, Centerville High School, Centerville, South Dakota

    "Also in New York, an armed robber was shot and injured by a police officer. The robber sued the police claiming that the officer had no right to shoot, even though he (the robber) was in the act of committing armed robbery. He (the robber) came out of court $4.5 million richer."
    Keli Crane, Blue Ridge High School, Blue Ridge, Texas

    "Laura, 16 years old, and Michael, 17 years old, had been dating for a mere two months when they decided to have sex. The two teens waltzed into their local pharmacy and shoplifted a box of condoms. One of the condoms that the couple stole broke during sex, and Laura was impregnated. The two teens sued the store for a large sum of money, claiming that the store should not have allowed faulty contraceptives to be placed where tempted teens could steal them."
    Angelina J. Morrow, Plainview High School, Ardmore, Oklahoma

    "A final example, one which I read about in the Medford Mail Tribune, started out with a man in New York being pulled over for a routine traffic violation. The man was carrying a bag of cocaine, and when approached by the police officers, decided to swallow the entire contents of the bag rather than to be caught with it. The man instantly went into convulsions, but the police acted fast enough to save his life. For this crazy or even stupid action, the man awoke at the hospital with minor brain damage. Instead of putting the blame on himself, he shed his responsibility, and blamed the police department for not acting quickly enough. Along with the blame, the man also filed a $7 million lawsuit."
    Josh Alner, Phoenix High School, Phoenix, Oregon

    "One convict, whose sentence was increased for escaping, sued the county and its sheriff, accusing them of negligence in failing to prevent the get-away."
    Laura Ann Shively, Freeman High School, Rockford, Washington

    "Anthony Jones is suing because the state will not allow him to wear a bra, panties, and mascara in jail. The thirty year old convicted murderer feels he has every right to wear a dress if he so pleases."
    Darrell Stoller, Eureka High School, Eureka, Illinois

    "A convicted murderer, Ratford Cox, was awarded $19,609.80 for two years worth of withheld benefits, after he complained of not having enough money to buy cigarettes. When his life sentence was decided, the judge took away Cox's weekly workers' compensation payments. After his complaint, the state's Court of Appeals reinstated his payments saying that 'there is no statutory authority for such a suspension.'"
    Angie Guthrie, Deer River High School, Deer River, Minnesota

    "Another example of irresponsibility was displayed by a family who sued Los Gatos Christian Church. Their daughter went water skiing with the high school group and she didn't know how to ski. The youth leaders then proceeded to teach her how by giving her instructions. When she finally began skiing she hit a wave, and fell resulting in an injured knee. The church paid for everything, hospital stay, ambulance ride, physical therapy and other expenses, without being asked. About three years after the incident the family sued the church for $50,000 because they didn't teach her how to ski properly."
    Kerri Franklin, Pioneer High School, San Jose, California



    http://www.wellingtonpublications.com/hsf/1994/responsibility/part1.html
     
  8. FlaRiptide

    FlaRiptide New Member

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    Though I can't say this from experience, I would surmise that many of these frivolous lawsuits are won due to shady attorneys, corrupt judges and perhaps antiquated laws or simply poor representation on the defense side.

    Please take NO OFFENSE!! :beer:

    I also surmise that cases of this sort are but a drop in a bucket compared to all the more reasonable outcomes.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2010

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