Hard to control dog causes fall and serious injuries...

by D.l.
(California)

I was walking a boyfriend's dog on the beach when the dog took off in the opposite direction, jerking the leash violently. I hit the hard sand, tore my A-C joint and dislocated several ribs.

My question is: Are dog owners responsible for injuries sustained by someone willingly walking a hard to control dog?

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Hard to Control Dog Causes Fall and Serious Injuries...":

D.I. (California):

The answer is the proverbial “Maybe.” If you had been seeing your boyfriend for a while and was aware of his dog’s proclivity to be difficult to control, then when you agreed to walk the dog you may have assumed the risk the dog might become unruly and aggressive.

Alternatively, if you were completely unaware of the potential for difficulty and your boyfriend failed to warn you, then the boyfriend may be liable for some sort of negligence.

Additionally, the size and weight of the dog may come into play making the "waters a bit murkier.” For example, let’s say you had just met your boyfriend and had no idea his dog had a penchant for bolting from his leash. Let’s also presume you are 5’6” and weigh 110 pounds. The dog is young and strong and weighs 70 or 80 pounds.

In a case like this you may have assumed liability for your own injuries because it might be said a reasonable and prudent person would have known better the inherent difficulty in controlling a dog weighing almost 90% of their own body weight. Under these circumstances it might be said you should have known you would have limited control over the dog if it chose to break or bolt from its leash.

Understandably there are not a lot of cases of girlfriends suing boyfriends over dog control issues. Your injuries are certainly regrettable. Whether or not the boyfriend should be held legally responsible for your injuries is a challenging and certainly interesting issue.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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