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Can Pizza Delivery enter my garage UNINVITED (in which I contained the dog) instead of going to the front door & ring/knock?

Rochester, NY |

We contained our dog in the attached-to-the-house garage. The pizza guy (came in an UNMARKED car) instead of walking up the walkway to the front door like others always do... went to our garage window, set the pizza down on the ground, looked into the garage door window, then opened the door! He let the dog loose, and the dog went after his butt and bit him. He closed the door with the dog outside and he (delivery guy) inside our garage. I heard things falling in the garage. My husband went to investigate and it's the pizza guy inside and the dog and the food outside the garage door! Does the pizza guy have the right to enter a home/garage (even if unlocked) without being invited? Also, I did NOT give instructions to "enter through garage. " Are we legally responsible for his bite?

We have entire episode on surveillance video. Him peaking in.... letting dog out, closing door, etc. I called store later that day- wanted to ask if he's ok (empathetically & humanly wanting to be nice). But they were closed. The guy showed up at our FRONT door the next day - rang the door bell demanding that we pay his doctor's visit medical bill. (He brought NO bill with him, only came to ask/harass) He left angry... in a huff. I mentioned the garage has a clear sign posted on it that there is a dog inside/on property. I also asked why in all the other times they came to front door... what was different this time?!? What possessed him to open garage door by himself? He claimed "it was an accident." And left in a huff and angry. We have both episodes on surveillance video.

Attorney Answers 9

Posted

I would consult with your insurance company right away so they can begin protecting your rights. The answer will likely depend on your local laws. Here in Nevada the analysis would be whether he was invited or not, whether his actions were reasonable (in opening the garage door), whether he had any indication there was a dog in the garage, whether the alternate access you talk about (walkway) was easily accessible or whether it was more difficult to reach, and whether he had been to your premises before and knew of the dog. There are obviously many other issues, but these would be the first questions I would want to know. My initial inclination is that you would NOT be responsible because the delivery guy's actions were unreasonable in opening the garage.

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8 comments

Asker

Posted

We have all footage on surveillance video. He was NOT invited into the garage (no specific instructions to "use garage/side door"). We were expecting the delivery at front door as always. The Walkway to front door was accessible, yes they have delivered here many times before. Garage has sign posted in window that GERMAN SHEPARD on duty in garage/on property. He CHOSE to enter anyways. (I'm assuming he did NOT read sign).

Benjamin P. Cloward

Benjamin P. Cloward

Posted

With this additional information, I think it would be very, very difficult for him to prevail against you. I would make sure your insurance company has all of these facts as they are very helpful in your defense.

Asker

Posted

Thank you. Your response is greatly appreciated! Is there a chance the insurance company would make us "put the dog down" because of the bite? He is a great dog and only doing his job. I now feel safe with him!

Benjamin P. Cloward

Benjamin P. Cloward

Posted

Heavens no. The insurance company would have no authority to do that. They might and I use might very loosely tell you that to provide future coverage, you need to get rid of the dog or they will cancel the policy. Further the city/municipality where you live would likely be hesitant to take any action either considering the pizza guy's actions in not paying attention. Thanks for your nice comment. You can rank the comments to indicate which one you feel best addresses your questions. Good luck with the issue. I'm happy to answer any other questions.

Asker

Posted

Thank you. Should I contact our Insurance now, or just wait and see if he sues/comes after us? And then contact them if needed. When he came to demand we pay his bill, he asked for direct answer if "it's a yes or no." I told him I can't answer that. I asked him to first provide the bill. Also I told him we have it all on surveillance.

Benjamin P. Cloward

Benjamin P. Cloward

Posted

At this point, I would certainly notify your insurance carrier. As you can expect they are always looking for reasons to disclaim or deny coverage. One commonly used reason is failure to cooperate or timely notify them of a potential claim. The insurance company could be prejudiced if they are unable to timely investigate the matter. I would notify them as soon as possible. Once they gather all the facts they will probably deny the pizza guy's claim. Hopefully that will be enough to deter him from going any further. If however he decides to file suit, you'll be in the driver's seat with all the facts your insurance company has gathered in your defense.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your time in answering so much for me! God Bless you in what you do as well as give you even more wisdom to continue what you do and helping people out as you did for us!

Benjamin P. Cloward

Benjamin P. Cloward

Posted

I'm really happy I was able to offer you some help. Best of luck. Hopefully nothing will come of it. Best regards, Ben

Posted

I don't think he was trespassing if that is what you mean. Whether you'd be on the hook for the bite, I don't think so either. But if you are sued turn the papers over to your insurance carrier and let them worry about it.

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Posted

Doesn't appear he was trespassing but I would notify your homeowners insurance to investigate the incident.

Call for a free consultation at 727-937-1400 or visit us on the Web at www.serviceandjustice.com.

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Posted

In New York, the owner is strictly liable for a dog that bites another if the owner knew or should have known of the dog's "vicious propensities." If your dog has not shown vicious propensities in the past, and you have never had problems with your dog doing anything dangerous to anyone else, the case is likely defensible.

Either way, you need to notify your insurance carrier so they can investigate and provide a defense in the event you are sued.

The author of this posting is a lawyer licensed to practice law in the State of New York. He specializes in litigation matters relating to personal injury, construction accidents, auto accidents, slip and fall, dog bite, contract litigation, property litigation, civil rights, ERISA, and Social Security matters in federal, state and local courts, with a focus on courts in Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. This posting is intended as general information only, is not provided as legal advice in connection with any specific case, and should not be construed to create an attorney-client relationship. For more information about me, see http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/10314-ny-gaetano-parrinello-1897122.html?ref=header

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Posted

Simply turn the matter over to your homeowner's insurance carrier to resolve this for you.

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Posted

You are strictly liable for a dog that has known or inferrable vicious propensities. Your pizza guy was an invitee, not a trespasser, at least initially. His "case" begins to deteriorate when he opened the garage door, which causes wrinkles. Fortunately, you promptly notified your home insurance carrier to avoid any disclaimer for late notice, and let them handle this. That's why you've been paying all those insurance premiums all those years!

If you found this "helpful" or "best answer," please click it with my appreciation. My response is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice nor creates an attorney client relationship which requires all the details and a personal conference.

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Posted

First, notify your homeowner's insurance carrier. They will handle the matter in your defense. As an aside, and solely based on your scenario, it would appear that there is a strong argument to be made that the delivery boy bears a significant percentage of culpability for this event. It is one thing for him to be attacked while on your property but in the open. It is another for him to enter inside a portion of the premises uninvited. In any event, this type of incident will be covered under your homeowner's policy.

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Posted

I suggest you advise your homeowners insurance carrier about this incident.

Legal Disclaimer:

If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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Posted

When you ordered the pizza you invited the delivery person to your home. I he or she wants sure what door was for the house then they can knock etc but they cannot just enter without being invited in. You are liable for your dog if the dog had a known vicious propensity. Why was the dog in the garage in the first place? Is this a guard dog or attack dog? If so, then it propensity is known and you may have a duty to warn of its presence. The facts o your question make it unlikely that the delivery person will succeed with a case. Notify your homeowners carrier.

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