Asked about 1 year ago - Palos Verdes Estates, CAFlag
My neighbor said he was walking his 4lb dog (his dog was on a leash) and then my 40lb golden retreiver ran over and bit his dog in the back. He then separated them and returned our dog to our backyard using the side gate and didnt even bother to knock on the door. He claims our gate was open when he returned our dog. The next day he comes to my door with a $3,000 bill. 2 months later the bill went up to $8,000 for additional visits to the vet.
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You're not liable unless the person obtains a judgment against you. Notify your homeowners insurer of any claim. If they decide there is risk you could become liable, they should seek to settle the claim. Otherwise, they should provide a lawyer to defend you. You must properly notify the insurer and cooperate in its investigation and defense.
He has to prove his claim and I hope you haven't paid him anything towards the vet bill. As my colleague suggest, notify your homeowner's insurance; however, if you doubt your dog did this, let them know IN WRITING that you do not want the claim settled. You should also speak with a local attorney for further guidance. The State Bar of California can give you a referral: www.calbar.ca.gov/
I am licensed to practice only in Illinois and Georgia, but the law in California is likely the same. In my states, you are probably liable for the vet bills that do relate to the dog bite, but liability only follows the entry of judgment against you. If you have homeowner's insurance, you need to report this matter immediately. Make NO statements to your neighbor or anyone representing him on tape, paper or orally about this incident.
It might be a good idea to avoid this guy until the matter is adjusted. And above all, DON'T PAY ANY OF HIS VET BILLS without judgment having been entered against you.
You're going to need a lawyer if you don't have homeowner's coverage. If you do have insurance, let your insurance company hire the lawyer for you.
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