If a friend’s dog attacks and injures my dog without provocation, is he still liable for the damages?

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If a friend’s dog attacks and injures my dog without provocation, is he still liable for the damages?

My dog was severely injured and taken to the vet. His dog was not taken to the vet. My dog and I were guests at his house, and I was left alone with the dogs while he ran errands. I think he is negligent for poorly training and socializing his dog, but he does not believe his dog is aggressive. My $950 vet bill says otherwise but the friend does not think he’s liable.

Asked on October 14, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The issue is whether your friend was in fact careless in some legally cognizable fashion. As a general rule--though every case must be evaluted on its own specific facts--if there was no warning that the dog was viscious (e.g. had not tried to attack or actually attacked another animal or person before), he *probably* was not negligent or careless, sine in that case, he did not know to take precautions. On the other hand, if there were prior attacks or attempted attacks, or some other reason to know that the dog was viscious or dangerous, he probably would be responsible or liable for the injury.

If you believe your friend is responsible, and you and he can't settle the matter (e.g. you each pay half), you have the option of suing him in small claims court, where the filing fees are low and  you can act as your own attorney, and seeing if you can convince the court to hold him responsible.


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