both dogs went after each other at the same time. the fight was broken up immediately by both owners. my dog suffered no injuries. the other dog suffered a tear in his ear and was taken to the ER. cost over $400. for stitches, meds, etc. they want me to pay for all of it and threatened me with a lawyer if i don't pay. should i let them take me to small claims and let the judge decide? it seems like a no fault case to me.
I agree with the previous answer, however, I believe that if you can get it resolved without the headache then it may be worth your time to try and negotiate with them...
Attorneys cannot represent clients in small claims court and with a claim of only $400, that seems like the most logical venue...
Look into getting a behavioral evaluation on your dog so that you can show the court that you are a responsible owner with a relatively good dog.
I have been sued over my dog and represented people who were injured in dog attacks. The first question is whether you were somehow negligent in your handling of the dog. Was the dog off leash? If so, was the leash in compliance with the the municipal code (6 feet in most South Bay cities? The second issue is whether you can be held strictly liable for your dog's behavior even if you were not negligent. California has two types of strict liability: common law and statutory. At common law, an owner can be held liable for his dog's behavior, even if the owner was not negligent in his handling of the dog, if the dog had exhibited similar behavior in the past. So if your dog had a history of being aggressive with other dogs, this would put you on notice of the dog's aggressive propensities such that you could be held liable even if you were very careful in your handling of the dog outside the park. Personally, I would pay the bill if I had plans to return to the park in the future.
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