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?

UPDATED: Dec 8, 2014

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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


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

Answered 8 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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