What is a person’s potential liability if they accidentally knock a person down while walking their dog?

My wife and her guide dog were out for a walk. They passed an elderly women. My wife’s guide dog misjudged the clearance and my wife lightly bumped the lady. It was a light brush of the shoulders but given the ladies age, that was all it took; she fell and hit her head and had to be taken to the hospital. Do we have any liability?

Asked on October 11, 2014 under Personal Injury, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

While it's impossible to answer your question definitively, from what you write, you most likely would not be liable. Liability for personal injury is based on fault; fault is based either  on an intentional bad act (which this wasn't), or on "negligence," which is "unreasonable carelessness"--and from what you write, your wife was not doing anything unreasonably careless. Without an intentional bad act or negligence, there should be no liability.

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