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Am I responsible for an injury my dog inflicted on another dog if the other dog instigated and bit my wife?

Brooklyn, NY |

My wife was with our off-leash dog in a park during designated off-leash hours. Another off-leash dog ran up to my dog and provoked her. A fight ensued, and my dog seriously injured the other dog and suffered minor injuries. The other dog bit my wife's hand while she was trying to break up the fight. Her injury was fairly minor, but it did require a doctor visit. The other owner was 40 feet away when the fight started, while my wife was next to our dog. We have witnesses to confirm this.

Now the owner of the other dog is threatening to take us to small claims court to cover his dog's vet bills. Who would win this dispute?

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Attorney answers 8


Depends on the judge & the testimony of the witnesses - maybe best to have your homeowners/renters insurance handle the defense

This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney . Be aware that every state has its own statute of limitations; and statutes & case laws that govern the handling of these matters.


A major question is whether either dog bit, attacked or otherwise showed viscious propensities in the past. If either dog has such a past and appropriate preventative measures were not taken (makes no difference if the park had "off leash hours", then the owner of that dog will face a finding of fault. As suggested, turn this over to your home owner's insurance carrier.


If you have a Homeowners Policy, you might want to consider turning this over to your insurance carrier as you are quite possibly covered for your dog injuring the other dog. Make sure your insurance carrier is completely aware of the circumstances behind the situation. Good luck.

Mr. Crosner is licensed to practice law in California and has been practicing law in California since 1978. The response herein is general legal and business analysis.. It is not intended nor construed to be "legal advice" but rather it is analysis, and different lawyers may analyze this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in 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. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.


Turn it over to your HO or renter's insurance carrier.


Assuming you have a homeowner's or renter's policy protecting your possessions, you simply need to turn the issue over to those folks as in most cases, dog bites are covered losses.

In no way am I offering you legal advice, and in no way has my comment created an attorney-client relationship. You are not to rely upon my note above in any way, but insted need to sit down with counsel and share all relevant facts before receiving fully-informed legal advice. If you want to be completely sure of your rights, you must sit down with an experienced criminal defense attorney to be fully aware of your rights.


Turn the issue over to your homeowner's/renter's insurance if you have it and let them worry about it for you. This is what insurance is used for and it will take a great deal of the hassle out of your hands.

The information provided herein is for informational purposes and should not be construed to establish an attorney client relationship. To establish such a relationship, the prospective client would need to meet with me in person, and have a detailed discussion about all the facts and circumstances surrounding your case.


You are asking a hypothetical; it's a hypothetical because you have not even been sued yet. Suppose I said "they will win." Suppose I said "you will win." Does it change anything? No. Because you were not even served with papers yet. And you may never be. To answer your question would require knowing a lot more facts about the case. Time is a lawyer's most valuable commodity. No lawyer is going to give you the detailed analysis you are asking in this forum. If and when you are sued that is the time to seek out defense counsel, who can answer all your questions once you have retained him or her. Right now though, you don't even need a lawyer.


Simply turn it over to your homeowner's insurance carrier to resolve.

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