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Are landlords responsible for dog attacks?

Dog attacks can cause horrific injuries, especially to a child. While nothing can undo the trauma of the attack, victims can turn to the civil justice system for compensation.

In California, the dog owners are strictly liable for injuries caused by their pets. This means you do not have to prove the owner was negligent. However, not all dog owners carry enough insurance to pay large damage claims. If the dog's owner lived in an apartment, the landlord may also be responsible.

Dogs often exhibit aggressive behavior months or even years prior to an attack. If a landlord was aware of a dog's aggressive tendencies, the landlord may be liable. To recover compensation, your attorney would have to prove the landlord was negligent in allowing a dog with aggressive tendencies to stay in the apartment complex.

In aftermath of an attack, many landlords say they didn't know the dog was there or didn't know the animal was aggressive. For this reason, prompt investigation is needed to collect and preserve evidence of landlord negligence. Examples include:

  • Was the animal's aggressive behavior reported to animal control?
  • Did other renters at the apartment complex complain to the landlord about the dog?
  • Did other people in the neighborhood report the dog to the landlord?

In many cases, landlords did know of an dog's aggressive tendencies. Landlords can be forced to pay when they turn a blind eye to a dangerous animal living in one of their units.

If you see a dog acting aggressively or running loose in a neighborhood, it is important to report the animal to animal control. That report can be important both in preventing future attacks and in ensuring the victims of attacks receive compensation from all liable parties.

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