What is my liability if my dog broke his leash and got in a fight with the neighbor’s dog during which the neighbor was bitten?

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What is my liability if my dog broke his leash and got in a fight with the neighbor’s dog during which the neighbor was bitten?

My dog was initially restrained but it failed; her dog was unleashed. We both broke the fight up and she got bit during the fight and claims it was my dog. Neither of us has homeowners insurance. And this occurred on condo property (shared in the association) in a mutual yard area. I am willing to help with the medical bills within reason. What am I liable for? Is she at fault partially for breaking up the fight? And would any attorney on their side be willing to take a case where there is no homeowners and assets to go after.

I’d like to mitigate the situation, but I want to avoid a situation where they may try to extort me for more than I’m liable for

Asked on December 11, 2015 under Personal Injury, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

d on what you write, you most likely would not be liable for anything, and if they sued you and you defended, you'd very likely win in court. (Note: if you are sued and don't want to pay, you *must* defend, even if you think they don't have a good case; failng to respond to a lawsuit means you lose by "default," like forfeiting a ball game by not showing up.)
That's because:
1) Liability, or an obligation to pay, is based on fault, or typically being unreasonably careless. But you were not careless: your dog was restrained. It is not your fault (you did nothing wrong) if the restraint broke; you took reasonable precautions.
2) Even IF you had been liable, to the extent she is liable to, that will reduce or even eliminate what she could win. And she may have been negligent in two ways:
a) It can be careless to not restrain your dog, as she failed to restrain her dog; and
b) Sticking your hand into a dog fight is "asking" to be bitten--it is a careless thing to do.
d on what you write, you appear to have a strong legal position.


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