In most cases, homeowners can be held responsible for injuries that occur on their property and in limited circumstances, even trespassers’ injuries are covered; dog bites provide no exception. Every jurisdiction has different rules on homeowner liability for dog bites to trespassers, and it is important to consult a Dog Bite Lawyer in Brooklyn NY for advice. In this article is a general discussion of legal issues that are common in cases handled by a Dog Bite Lawyer.
The Definition of a “Trespasser”
The first thing a homeowner needs to determine is if the injured party is a trespasser, because that assessment determines the duty of care owed by the property owner. Trespassers are those who enter another person’s property unlawfully, but entering without permission doesn’t automatically constitute trespassing. In some instances, an alleged trespasser might receive “implied permission” to enter the premises.
Are Trespassers Owed a Duty of Care?
A “duty of care” is legal terminology for the amount of prudence and caution that reasonable people exercise under set circumstances. Homeowners only owe trespassers a duty of “reasonable care”, and they are not liable for the other person’s injuries if they meet that standard. Courts consider what the average homeowner would do under like circumstances, and whether a homeowner met that level of attentiveness. The duty of care extends to foreseeable injuries caused by the homeowner’s dogs.
Exceptions for Dogs Known to be Dangerous
There is an exception to the duty of care in dog bite cases. If a homeowner knew that an animal was dangerous, in most instances, they would be held liable for injuries to trespassers. In strict liability cases, homeowners are liable regardless of their negligence. Basically, if a person knows their dog is dangerous or vicious, they are liable for injuries caused by that animal whether or not reasonable care was exercised.
In dog bite cases, even exceptions have exceptions. If a dog has exhibited dangerous tendencies, and a homeowner takes appropriate precautions, they may not be held liable. For instance, if a dog is chained, and a trespasser knows of the animal’s tendencies, they cannot recover damages for their injuries. This exception applies only in rare circumstances, but it can absolve a dog owner of liability for a trespasser’s injuries. A Dog Bite Lawyer in Brooklyn NY can tell a homeowner whether they can use this defense in their case.
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