Legal Liability for a Dog Bite in an Apartment: The Role of Everyone Involved

Suffering a dog bite can prove incredibly traumatic and add a great deal of financial stress to your life. Due to your dog bite injuries, you may end up with high medical bills, struggling to make it as you stay out of work, and unable to figure out what comes next. Filing a dog bite injury claim can help you recover compensation for your injuries and financial losses. Before you can file a claim, however, you will need to identify the parties that bear liability for the attack.

The Dog’s Owner: Responsibilities and Requirements

Georgia law holds the owner of a dog liable for an attack if the dog’s owner knew that the dog had the potential to bite, but did not do anything to protect against an attack. Often, Georgia relies on a “one bite” policy: if the dog has already attacked someone in the past, the owner has a high level of responsibility for avoiding future attacks. 

That means a dog’s owner may need to provide a higher level of restraint when the dog’s owner knows the dog has reason to bite. However, the lack of a previous bite does not mean that you cannot recover compensation for a dog attack. Often, the dog’s owner will bear liability for the immediate costs associated with a dog attack.

Usually, that means you will pursue compensation through the owner’s insurance company. Renter’s insurance will often provide coverage for the damages caused by a dog attack. 

Property Owners

Many apartments have dog parks and runs that give dog owners a place for their furry friends to run and play. However, in some cases, the property owner may fail to properly manage the dog park area, leading to an insecure space that dogs can easily escape. Several conditions may leave the property owner liable for a dog that escapes and bites someone. 

  • Damaged gates that dogs can easily slip out of
  • Inadequate fencing, including low or damaged fencing, that dogs can easily escape
  • Failing to replace fencing in a timely manner

If the property owner does not take care of the dog park area, the property owner may bear liability if a dog escapes and attacks a resident of or visitor to the apartment complex. Often, that means that you will end up pursuing compensation through the property insurance or business insurance policy that covers the complex.

Property Managers

Property managers, unlike the owner of the property, do not have direct responsibility for overall upkeep. However, property managers often need to get inside apartments or otherwise access areas of the property where dogs might reside. If the property manager mistakenly allows a dog to escape an apartment, particularly if the property manager knows that a vicious dog lives in the property or that the dog has a history of escaping, and the dog bites someone, the property manager may bear liability for that dangerous action. 

In some cases, that will mean that, as the injured party, you will need to pursue compensation from the property manager’s employer. The company’s business insurance will often take care of damages caused by the negligent actions of a property manager. 

Determining Who Bears Liability for Your Dog Attack

If you get bitten by a dog in an apartment complex, you need to determine who bears liability for the attack so that you can pursue compensation from all parties that may bear or share liability for the incident. Start by getting in touch with a dog bite lawyer as soon as possible. A dog bite lawyer can help investigate all the details of the incident.

Your attorney will ask several questions to help determine liability for the dog attack.

  • Who bore a duty of care to you at the time of the incident? The owners of apartment buildings, for example, generally bear a duty of care to anyone residing in those apartments and anyone who visits the apartment complex. Dog owners, on the other hand, bear a general duty of care to others around them when it comes to keeping the dog restrained and providing a general degree of safety.
  • Who violated that duty of care? That is, what act of negligence was committed at the time of the incident? Negligence might include failing to properly restrain or train a dog, on the part of the dog owner, or failing to keep up with the property in a way that will prevent dogs from escaping. 
  • How did the act of negligence lead or contribute to the dog attack? For example, if a property manager knows that a dog lives in an apartment, but does not take precautions to keep the dog from escaping when opening the door, that action might directly contribute to a dog attack. On the other hand, in cases where the apartment complex fails to adequately maintain dog parks and other areas, and the dog escapes as a result, those negligent actions might directly contribute to the attack.

If you suffered injuries in the dog attack due to the negligence of any party, you may then pursue compensation for your losses.

Did You Suffer a Dog Bite in an Apartment? A Lawyer Can Help!

If a dog bit you in an apartment complex, you need a dog bite lawyer to help you determine all parties that share liability for the incident and how much compensation you deserve for those damages. A lawyer can:

  • Investigate the incident to give you a better idea of all parties that may share liability
  • Take a look at the damages you sustained so that you can include all relevant damages, including any medical costs, lost income, and your pain and suffering
  • Deal with the insurance company or companies on your behalf
  • Provide you with support and guidance that can help you navigate the claim process

With a lawyer on your side, you can feel much more confident about the outcome of your dog bite claim. Contact Cambre & Associates today to learn more about your right to compensation following a dog attack.