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Roommate’s Dog Bites A Child – Where Does The Blame Lie?

Published March 31, 2018 by Bruce Millar
Roommate’s Dog Bites A Child – Where Does The Blame Lie?

Part of what makes a dog-bite case so difficult is the challenge of knowing where to lay the blame. Dogs, of course, don’t carry insurance policies to cover their own misdeeds, and humans are famous for trying to ‘pass the buck.’

In Georgia, the law sees a dog as benign. Unless and until the owner is aware of the dog’s bad attitude, or unless the dog escapes its owner’s or keeper’s control, the owner or keeper often is not legally responsible for an injury. In the end, it is often the question of “careless management” upon which dog attack cases hinge along with the question of upon whose property the attack took place. Something as simple as a dog bite can become quite fuzzy around the edges.

A dog owned by a man, and occasionally cared for by his roommate, bit a child and injured her. Where does the blame lie here?

The injured girl’s family sued both the roommate and the dog’s owner for the damages. They cited the fact that their family’s cat had been killed by another of the dogs owned and kept at the property as evidence of carelessness on the part of the owner and roomate.

As trial time approached, the defendant roommate made a motion for summary judgment on three of four counts that dealt directly with the dog biting the girl excluding the alleged cat-killing entirely. The trial court granted partial summary judgment in favor of the roommate since he did own neither the dog nor the place where the attack happened. (Which location happened to be the property of the bitten girl’s family.)

In their decision, the Georgia Appellate Court upheld the trial court’s decision. The roommate was not liable under the law for damages done by a dog he didn’t own. Nor was the roommate responsible for the management of the dog at the time of the incident even though he did occasionally care for the dog when the owner was out of town. The dog was under the care and management of its owner at the time of the attack.

Additionally, because the accident did not take place upon the property of the dog’s owner, the usual responsibility for keeping his premises safe was not in question. The dog owner’s premises liability insurance policy could not be tapped to pay for the injury.

Who and how to sue is not as cut-and-dried as one might think, particularly in terms of dog-bite cases. That’s the main reason that you should hire a dog-bite specialist if you hope to prevail in court.

At The Millar Law Firm we only deal with personal injury law. We have years of experience in handling all manner of personal injuries, but especially those that involve dog-bites. We see ourselves as the premier dog-bite lawyers in the Atlanta area. For this reason, we urge you to take advantage of our free case evaluation service.

Allow us to review the facts of your case. We’ll suggest how we think you should proceed.

Call us today.

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