If my dog ran out of our property to play around and saw an old couple walking and one of the people backed up, fell and was injured, am I liable?

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If my dog ran out of our property to play around and saw an old couple walking and one of the people backed up, fell and was injured, am I liable?

As my dog approached them, I told the couple to stand still but they lady didn’t listen and backed up and fell down. The thing is my dog never touched the person at all.All he did was approach and sniff around them . Now she is claiming that i have to pay for their medical bill for a bad back and such since the dog jumped on them . What can I do? Also, after she fell down, she walked back to her house and complained about having a broken bone.

Asked on December 8, 2014 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you are liable for the elderly person's injuries because of a legal precedent which states that the defendant takes the plaintiff as is.  In your case, this means that if the elderly person was injured by the fall despite being in poor condition to begin with, you are liable.

Also, liability is based on the fact that but for your dog approaching, the person would not have been injured.  That establishes actual cause.  Her backing up when your dog approached, even though you told her not to, was a foreseeable response which establishes proximate cause.

If you have any applicable insurance for this situation, refer the matter to your insurance carrier.

If there isn't any applicable insurance, you might want to consider filing bankruptcy if the person sues and is awarded a judgment against you which you can't afford to pay.  If you are eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy which is straight liquidation, that debt will be eliminated.


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