Am I liable if a guest chipped their tooth in my home?

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Am I liable if a guest chipped their tooth in my home?

A friend of mine came to the house to buy a car part. We were in my dining room talking when my dog Trixie came in and got excited as most dogs do when someone new comes over. He proceeded to pet her and bent over to get closer, at which point my dog jumped up and their faces collided chipping my friend’s tooth. The next day he called me to ask if I would cover the part of fixing his tooth that the insurance did not. Obviously I feel as though this was a simple accident with no malicious intent. Can he sue me for this?

Asked on August 21, 2014 under Personal Injury, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Anyone *can* sue--because the courts do not want to deny people their day in court, almost any case can be filed, even if it would ultimately lose. From what you write, it is likely that your friend would lose, since you do not appear to have been negligent, or unreasonably careless, in this situation--there was no reason to think you had to take unusual precautions to prevent your dog from somehow chipping your friend's tooth. In the absence of negligence, there would not be fault in a case like this; in the absence of fault, there would be no liability. So if sued, you should have a good defense. That, however, does not prevent your friend from filing a suit if he feels sufficiently aggrieved, and defending against a lawsuit has its own costs, in terms of money, time, and stress. Depending on what he is asking for, for a low-enough amount, it may be worthwhile voluntarily paying him to avoid litigation; though if you do this, get a written agreement from him that the payment settles all claims and causes of action he may have against you.


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