My dog jumped up on a neighbor walking in the street and she fell down...

by Anonymous

About a month ago my dog ran out of the gate and jumped on my neighbor who was walking on the street in front of my house. My neighbor fell back and was taken to the emergency room and released two hours later.

She has been claiming to have back pains for the past month and I think she may want to sue me. I have nothing to give her. I am worried that she may have a case. My dog is friendly, did not bite her but just jumped on her leg and she fell. Am I liable for her injuries? What can I do about this? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "My dog jumped up on a neighbor walking in the street and she fell down...":

Anonymous (USA):

You will likely be liable for your neighbor's medical bills, her out of pocket expenses for medicines (if required by her doctor), any lost wages for the time she may not be able to work during her recovery, and finally for her pain and suffering (also called emotional distress or mental anguish).

If your neighbor sues you, alleging you were negligent in not confining your dog, your homeowners insurance will pay for all of these "damages." If your homeowners policy is a standard one, your coverage will be up to $100,000.00 dollars with no deductible.

In the alternative, if your neighbor chooses not to sue you, your homeowners insurance will still pay up to $1,000.00 dollars for your neighbor's medical bills only. There won't be any deductible here either.

You should immediately notify your homeowners insurance company about the incident. If this is the first reported incident your premiums will not likely be raised.

If you don't carry homeowners insurance your neighbor can still sue you. If you truly don't have any assets, and your neighbor wins the case, all she will be able to do is take a judgment against you. In most cases, the judgment will be in force for up to 10 years, and will accrue interest at the lawful rate each year the judgment isn't paid.

If you live in a state with a "homestead" rule your neighbor will not be able to levy the judgment against your home. If you live in a non-homestead state, she will be able to levy the judgment against your home.

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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