Visitor Question

Unleashed dog injured my leashed dog and my boyfriend at his apartment complex…

Submitted By: Jennifer (Houston, TX)

My boyfriend was watching my dog while I was away on business, and he was walking him in his apartment complex (my dog is a small 13-lb Shih Tzu mix and was on a leash). Suddenly, a large (approx. 65 lb) mixed breed dog that was unleashed attacked my dog, causing my boyfriend to tackle the large dog to the ground in order to save our dog.

The owner of the dog that attacked ran over to the scene, started punching his own dog in an attempt to make him let go, and ultimately had to use his hands to pry his dog’s jaw off my dog.

My boyfriend suffered bruised ribs from the tackle to the ground and went to urgent care to receive X-rays, which determined there were no breaks, but he struggled with bruises, pain and taking deep breaths for several weeks. He missed 2 full days of work. My dog was taken immediately to the vet, suffering puncture wounds all the way around his neck, stitches and emergency surgery. Our vet bills are now totaling around $2,000 and both my boyfriend and I have missed additional work time to take him each week.

My boyfriend’s apartment complex requires renter’s insurance, which him and I both have our own policies. The attacker’s owner, however, has no insurance and is currently in the process of being evicted from the property because of it (management found out because of this incident). The property management, however, claims they are not liable for any of our damages.

My questions are as follows: Who should be liable for this? Is it my insurance or the property management? Do I have a case if I were to start a civil suit against the attacking dog’s owner? Do I have a case if I were to file a civil suit against the property management for negligence in this case?

Any assistance would be much appreciated. Thank you!

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.

Answer

Dear Jennifer,

It is clear the dog owner should be liable for the injuries to your boyfriend and to your dog. There is no evidence your boyfriend or your dog instigated the attack.

While the apartment property owners or management have a duty to take reasonable action to assure the safety and well-being of their tenants, that duty does not extend to monitoring the actions of dogs while the dogs are on the property.

However, if the apartment property owner or  management knew, or should have known the dog previously injured tenants or displayed dangerous or aggressive behavior, and with that actual or implied knowledge took no action to remove or otherwise control the dog, then they might share some liability. However there is no evidence the property owner or management had previous knowledge of the dog’s propensity for violence.

Inasmuch as the dog owner didn’t have insurance at the time of the attack, it is unlikely he has sufficient assets so that an attorney might agree to represent your boyfriend. Instead, after making a demand upon the dog owner for compensation for your boyfriend’s injuries and resulting losses (including medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and lost wages), if the dog owner then refuses to cooperate, your boyfriend might consider filing a small claims lawsuit in one of Texas Small Claims Courts.

Texas small claims courts have authority to hear cases up to $10,000. For more information about Texas Small Claims Courts, go to the Texas Young Lawyers Association  “How to Sue in Small Claims Courts.”

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: October 19, 2017

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