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State Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Landlord in Dog Bite Case

Late last month, the Supreme Court in Montana decided a dog bite case in favor of the defendants. Evidently, a landlord rented a part of her property to a couple and their dogs, which had pit-bull ancestry. One of the tenants’ dogs ended up biting the landlord’s neighbor’s children on two separate occasions in the neighbor’s backyard.

dog-pitbull-841339-mThe neighbor brought a suit against the landlord, claiming that the landlord was negligent and that she was strictly liable for their daughter’s injuries. The landlord claimed that she was not aware that the tenant’s dogs were dangerous. Additionally, she claimed that the neighbors did not prove that the type of dogs that the tenants had were inherently dangerous. The lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the landlord, but the plaintiffs then appealed that decision. The Supreme Court in Montana affirmed the lower court’s decision in favor of the defendants.

Georgia Dog Bite Cases and Strict Liability

Strict liability is a theory of absolute liability. This means that an individual can be held liable for certain injuries and damages even if that person was not negligent. This theory often applies in cases involving manufactured goods that are damaged or defective and subsequently cause an injury to an individual using the good. It also applies in many dog bite situations.

In Georgia, a dog owner or a person responsible for a dog may be responsible for injuries caused by a “vicious” or “dangerous” dog. This applies to the owner of a dog or the “keeper” of the dog. The keeper of a dog in the above case would be the landlord. In these types of cases, the plaintiff would not need to show negligence on the part of the owner or keeper. Instead, they would need to prove that the owner knew or should have known of the vicious propensity of the dog. In Georgia, it is often enough to show that the dog was required to be on a leash by an ordinance. The court will determine whether the owner knew or should have known that the dog may bite or attack another person.

The above case was decided in Montana, and it is important to note that in Georgia it is quite possible that the defendant in this case could have been found liable because presumably the owner and landlord knew that the dog—a pit bull—had bitten in the past and had the propensity to do so again. The court will also look into circumstantial evidence regarding these types of cases. The plaintiff in these cases can put forth evidence regarding the training of the dog, the history of the dog, and any warnings that the owner or keeper made about the dog.

Have You or a Loved One Been Injured Because of Another’s Dog?

If you or a loved one has been bitten by a dog and been seriously injured as a result, you may consider bringing a strict liability or traditional negligence claim against the owner or keeper of the dog. If you are successful, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you suffered as a result of the dog bite. These cases are often complicated. A series of factors need to be established, and the assistance of an attorney is critical. Contact the premises liability lawyers at Miller Legal Services at 770-284-3727 to schedule a free initial consultation.

See Related Blog Posts:

Litigation Against General Motors Continues, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, April 15, 2015.

Filmmakers Plead Guilty and Avoid Trial in Fatal Train Georgia Accident, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, March 18, 2015.