Who Is Liable For Dog Bites At A Business?

Posted on: 18 May 2015

Dogs are a presence in many people's lives and some people take their dogs everywhere, including stores or other businesses. Wherever dogs are allowed, there is a possibility of a dog bite injury. Many people may not know who is responsible for a dog bite when it happens inside a business. Here are three scenarios where liability may not be so clear. {None of these scenarios apply to service or police dogs, which are usually exempt from most dog bite liability.}

The business owner brings his own dogs:

When an owner of a business brings his or her own dog to the workplace, it is expected that care will be taken so that the dog doesn't cause injury to people lawfully doing business at the location. This may mean keeping the dog in a restricted area or restrained in some fashion. If a customer is injured, the owner will be liable for damages unless he or she can prove that the customer did something to provoke the dog. The owner may not be liable if the customer was bitten while in an area of the business where the customer wasn't supposed to be.

The business doesn't keep customers from bringing in dogs:

Perhaps the business doesn't explicitly say that no dogs are allowed, but doesn't say anything when customers bring their dogs.  In some cases, the business may be liable for dog bites or injuries if it was aware that the dog was in the establishment and nothing was done about it. However, liability varies from state to state. Some states put liability solely on the dog's owner in these cases; some put it on the business only if they knew the dog was potentially dangerous. This is when it is helpful to talk to a lawyer (like those at Randall A. Wolff & Associates, Ltd) to make sure you recover from the rightful party.

The business is a pet, feed, or other type of store that explicitly allows dogs:

Some businesses, such as pet supply shops, explicitly welcome dogs into their establishments. They may even post clear notices to be aware of dogs in the store. Unfortunately, not all dogs are well behaved or socialized. This can result in not only a bite to another person, but another dog as well. In most cases, the store will probably not be liable for any bites. However, the dog's owner may be liable based on their state's dog bite laws.

If you are bitten by a dog while visiting a business, be sure to bring it to the attention of the employees of the store and the dog owner, immediately. Try to get their names and contact information.  Then, get medical attention as soon as possible. Keep as much documentation as you can. If there is any problem getting information, contact a lawyer to see what your other options could be to getting that information and any other legal options.

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