What to do about paying for injuries to a dog that were caused by our dog?

About 4 years ago, our dog walker was walking our dog in a nearby park. Our

dog saw another dog and got excited, backed out of her collar and got off

the leash and engaged with the other dog. Our dog walker described it as rough play that lasted about 30 seconds before she was able to get to our dog and restrain her. The other owners felt like there were injuries to their dog and

took the dog to a vet. I spoke to the owner and the vet later that evening and

was told from the vet that there were shallow wounds that were treated and I

paid the bill directly with the vet over the phone. A week later we got a call

from the owner saying that there was an additional vet bill, so I told him to send

it to me and I never heard from him again, at least until last week. He called us saying that over the years there had been some necessary and some optional treatments. He said he contacted a lawyer and that they

Asked on March 18, 2016 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

In your state, the statute of limitations, or time period within which to sue for injury to property (apologies to all the "pet parents" out there, but dogs are property under the law) is only 3 years. If 4 years have passed, it should be too late to sue you for the injuries. Furthermore, it's not clear that you would necessarily be liable, since it's not clear that there was any fault involved--dogs sometimes get lose and fight even if the person walking them did nothing wrong and was not careless--and in the absence of fault, there would be no liability. Therefore, based on what you write, it seems unlikely that you could now be held liable and forced to pay. You may be more comfortable paying, either because you feel responsible or because you want to shut down this chapter without more strife, but that is your choice. If you do choose to pay, then yes--make sure you get a written, signed agreement that this settles ALL claims arising out of the incident or injury and that they cannot sue you.


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