Visitor Question

Our dog accidentally ran into a neighbor…

Submitted By: Connie (Ridegfield, WA)

A neighbor was walking his own dog one morning minding his own business, when our dog broke free from her leash and ran into him and his dog in the street in front of our house. This caused him to twist and turn and tweak his knee. This neighbor is now claiming that the incident is causing his knee to really hurt.

He is now saying he may have to see an orthopedic doctor and have CAT scans, MRIs, injections, etc., which will all have to be paid out of our pocket if his insurance doesn’t cover it. Our dog didn’t bite him or his dog, but has broke free after him in the past for which animal control had been called out.

She is an English Springer Spaniel which is not an aggressive breed, she just has puppy syndrome and thinks she’s tough! Are we liable for our neighbor’s injuries and all the medical costs? This was an accident.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Connie,

You are liable for the injuries sustained by your neighbor as a direct result of your dog running into him. A dog owner is almost always liable for injuries their dog causes, accidental or not. Sure, accidents happen, but you can’t just say to your neighbor, “Sorry about that, it was an accident. Now you are responsible for your own medical bills.” It doesn’t work that way.

Moreover, animal control had been previously called out when your dog broke free. That’s substantial evidence showing you knew, or should have known, your dog had a propensity for breaking loose.

Your homeowners insurance will cover most, if not all of your neighbor’s medical bills. If you don’t have homeowners or renters insurance you’ll have to pay the medical bills and related damages out of your own pocket. Damages can include not only your neighbor’s medical bills, but his out of pocket costs for medications, costs of transportation to and from therapy, his lost wages, and an additional amount for his pain and suffering.

If you don’t have insurance you may want to consult with an attorney.

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

Best of luck,

Published: September 27, 2013

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