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2 leashed dogs got into a minor quick fight outside the dog park. One had minor injuries, the other had none. Who is liable?

Torrance, CA |

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.

Attorney Answers 7


  1. Small claims court is always a good option.

    Licensed in PA & NJ. 29% Contingency Fee. Phone: 215-510-6755 www.InjuryLawyerPhiladelphia.com


  2. 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.

    Good luck!

    Thomas A. Schaeffer, Esq. Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216, San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 www.jslaw.org This posting is provided for "informational purposes" only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principals discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different States.


  3. I agree with the other attorneys, especially Attorney Schaeffer's advice about a behavior evaluation. Also, find out if the other dog has got into fights before, if so were the owners are aware of it. If so it may help your case to show their dog was the first aggressor.

    -Michael R. Juarez Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216 San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 www.jslaw.org Mike@jslaw.org This posting is provided for “information purposes” only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principles discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different jurisdictions.


  4. If you are unsuccessful at negotiating a settlement with the other dog owner then go to small claims court.

    Good luck.

    DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.


  5. Unless you enjoy court drama and Judge Judy, offer half and be done with it. If he refuses. Go to small claims court. Best of luck.

    This answer is provided by Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., aka El Abogado de Divocios de California: 510-206-4492. It is of a general context and is not intended to form an attorney client relationship. I am licensed only in California. This information is good only in California and it is not to be taken as legal advice on divorce, family matters, bankruptcy or in any other type of situation. Esta respuesta es del Abogado de Bancarrotas, Manuel A. Juárez, 510-206-4492. Abogado Hispano de Divorcios, Abogado Latino de Accidentes, y Abogado de Bancarrotas de Oakland, Hayward, San Francisco, y California. Estas respuesta son solo para información general y no consisten en consejo legal sobre divorcios, mantención de esposas, mantención de hijos o bancarrotas. Las respuestas son comentarios legales que no forman una relación de abogado y cliente. Manuel Juarez, Esq., esta licenciado solo en el Estado de California.


  6. I agree with Mr. Jaurez's pragmatic approach. I would take things to small claims court unless I had to.


  7. 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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