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Can You Hold Roommates Responsible For Dog Bites?

August 31, 2021

By van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim

tragic story emerged out of Miller Township recently, in which a 60-year-old woman was mauled to death by three pitbull terriers. The victim was watching the dogs for her roommate and had been helping care for them in her home for the past month. The story has gone around Pennsylvania as it has sparked the pitbull debate once again, and because the news is so shocking.

However, it has also led to some interesting legal questions, such as whether or not a roommate can be held responsible for a dog bite or attack. As with most legal issues, the answer to that question is a complicated one.

Household Members are Typically Responsible for Dogs

Under Pennsylvania law, dog owners are responsible for paying damages if their dog bites or attacks someone and is injured or killed as a result. The law also states though, that keepers are also responsible for controlling and restraining dogs so they do not injure anyone. As such, it is not only dog owners that are usually liable for paying damages if the dog hurts someone, but also anyone else in the household, including roommates.

The presumption of the law is that anyone that lives in the same home as the dog is likely aware of any violent or aggressive tendencies they may have. Household members living in the same home as a dog also likely know how to control the dog and how the dog has been trained. Due to this, if someone from the same household was watching the dog, they are considered responsible and therefore, may have to pay damages in the event the dog bites or attacks.

Dog Bite Cases are Dependent on the Facts

Like all personal injury cases, whether or not a victim can sue after a dog bite will depend on the facts of the case. For example, in the recent news story, it is unclear about how long the dogs were living with the victim. If it had only been a short time and the owner of the dog was not actually considered a roommate, the woman’s family may not have a valid wrongful death claim. Or, if a roommate was restraining a dog on a defective leash and it broke, a claim may also be filed against the manufacturer.

The validity of any personal injury case will depend on the facts, and that holds true for dog bite claims, as well. If you or someone you love has been hurt by another person’s dog, it is critical that you speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Our Allentown Dog Bite Lawyers Can Provide Sound Legal Advice

Dog bite claims may seem straightforward, but they are not. If you have been hurt by another person’s dog, our Allentown dog bite lawyers at van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim can provide the experienced legal representation you need. Call us today at (215) 486-0123 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.



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