Dog Walkers and Dog Bite Liability
Can a Dog Walker Be Held Liable for a Dog Bite on Their Watch?
Dogs require lots of love and care, which include going out for daily walks. However, the life of a dog owner can get so busy that they will have to hire someone else to do their dog walking for them. They might ask their neighbor, a pet sitter, or even request a walker from the popular dog walking apps, such as Wag! and Rover. While in the care of others, a dog bite incident can occur, and someone might get hurt. Who’s responsible for the injuries in this instance – the dog owner, the dog walker, or both? What if the dog walker themself becomes injured? Below, our expert team of dog bite attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers lay out the legal implications of dog bites and injuries that occur while the dog is under the care of a dog walker or other caretaker.
Owner’s Liability for Dog Bites
California is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bites, and owners are commonly held liable for the injuries caused by their dogs whether the injury occured on private property, such as in their own home, or on public property. One exception might be if a dog was provoked by the individual they attacked. However, in most cases, a dog owner will be held responsible, even if the dog was in the care of someone else, including a dog walker.
An aggrieved individual can file a claim against the dog owner for their injuries. The following are sources of coverage for damages:
- The dog owner’s homeowner insurance
- The private or commercial property owner’s insurance
Dog Walker’s Liability for Dog Bites
California is also a comparative liability state, meaning that more than one person can be held liable for injuries caused by the attack. This means that a dog walker can also be held liable for injuries the dog, under their care, caused to someone else. This depends on the level of negligence the dog walker contributed to the attack.
Consider the following example: a dog owner leaves the dog under the care of the dog walker and instructs them to place a muzzle on the dog during their walks. However, the dog walker chooses not to put the muzzle on the dog. As both the dog walker and dog are out for a walk, the dog bites and attacks another individual passing by. In this instance, the dog walker can be found liable for causing the attack due to their negligence.
Dog Walking Apps
Rover offers the Rover Guarantee, which provides coverage for up to $1,000,000 for damages caused to third party individuals injured by a pet while under the care of a Rover employee, with some exclusions.
Wag!’s Terms of Services, on the other hand, discloses their voidance of responsibility for any personal injury caused by a pet while under the care of a Wag! employee.
What Happens if a Dog Walker Is Bit?
According to California’s Veterinarian Rule, a dog walker makes an assumption of risk when taking care of pets. This means that a pet owner might not be held liable for injuries caused by a dog walker. However, in some cases, if a pet owner doesn’t disclose that their animal might be dangerous or has a history of biting and a dog walker is bitten, a pet owner could be held liable. This is especially true upon a new dog walker’s first contact with the pet.
What to Do if a Dog Bite Happens
If a dog bite happens while the dog is under the care of a dog walker, there are a couple of steps you should take:
- Call for emergency services. If the attack is severe, you should contact the police. They will arrive and conduct an official police report. Paramedics may also be present at the scene of the incident to offer immediate medical attention, if needed.
- Document the incident and the injuries. Take photos of your injuries, damages, and where the incident took place. If a witness was nearby during the attack, you should ask them for their consent to acquire their contact information. Witness testimonies will help strengthen your case, if you choose to file a personal injury claim.
- Exchange information with the dog sitter and ask for the contact information of the dog owner. Request that the owner is immediately notified and that you need their insurance information, as well.
- Get immediate medical attention. Be sure to get medical attention as soon as possible and to document all visits, diagnosis, and treatments. This is essential to obtaining evidence to build your case.
- Get an experienced dog bite attorney to help guide you through the process of filing a personal injury claim. They will negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you receive maximum compensation, and represent you in a lawsuit, if necessary.
Need a Dog Bite Attorney? West Coast Trial Lawyers Can Help
If you or a loved one were bit by a dog, our experienced team of dog bite attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you get the maximum compensation you deserve for damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. No fees will be charged until your case has been settled. Contact us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.