Am I liable for my wife’s dog?

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Am I liable for my wife’s dog?

My soon-to-be ex-wife owns 2 dogs and 1 got out. I found it up the street but

before I could grab it it attacked another dog that was being walked. The person walking the dog sustained an injury because she did not leave after I had control of the dog and the dog subsequently attacked her dog again because she did not remove herself or her dog from the situation. Now she has filed a lawsuit and I am named as one of the defendants. I am not the legal owner of the dog, it is not my dog. The dog had already escaped from the yard when I arrived at the house. Am I liable in any way?

Asked on August 1, 2018 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You were walking the dog; the dog was under your control. Therefore, if it got out of control and injured others, you can be liable for your lapse in control, regardless of dog ownership. (E.g. say you were walking a friend's dog as a favor and it attacked someone while under your control--you could be llable). 
The fadt that the dog was in your control establishes the possibility of you being liable for it. You would not be unless it can be shown that you were at fault in some way: not maintaining control of it; allowing a known vicious animal (if it was know to be aggressive) too close to others; etc. So it is not a given that you are liable, but you could be.


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