Legal Question in Personal Injury in California

Suing for dog bite

A lady had five pitbull puppies off leash in a secluded park. they attacked a man and his 3 year old son. The father protected the boy from harm by holding him over his head. This lady is slow and lives on SSI. The house she lives in under section 8 is owned by her Mother. The Mother's estate is valued at appx. 2 million. If the lady gets sued can they get any of the mother's money?

Asked on 3/06/08, 2:21 pm

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5 Answers from Attorneys

Mitchell Roth MW Roth, Professional Law Corporation

Re: Suing for dog bite


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Answered on 3/24/08, 9:36 pm

Robert L. Bennett Law offices of Robert L. Bennett

Re: Suing for dog bite


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Answered on 3/24/08, 9:49 pm
Lowell Houghton Law Offices of Hagop Chopurian

Re: Suing for dog bite

Maybe, if the mother is the landlord and the mother had knowledge of the dogs dangerous propensities and had adequete time to evict her daughter or make the daughter get rid of the dogs, and did not the mother/landlord can be held liable

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Answered on 3/24/08, 10:22 pm
John Bisnar Bisnar & Chase, LLP

Re: Suing for dog bite

An analysis of this question requires the clarification of several pieces of your inquiry:

1. Mother, or her property or her estate, is not liable for daughter dog owner's tort liabiilty just because she is her Mother, unless the dog owner is a minor ... and then Mother might be liable for the first about $30,000 of damages. Otherwise, Mom must be independently liable for the actions of the dogs. A Mother is not the insurance company for the torts of her adult children.

2. In order to be independently liable, Mother must be an owner or keeper of the dogs. The liability of a "keeper" of a dog is a negligence liability, where that person has knowledge of a dog's dangerous propensity to attack, bite, and injure people, and despite that knowledge fails to take reasonable steps to protect other people from that dangerous propensity. Usually, Mom owning the home where daughter is living would not result in Mom being found to be a "keeper" of the dog; however, if Mom lived there, too, and helped in the management and control of the household which included the dogs there may be facts which would support a finding that Mom is a "keeper" of the dogs.

3. There might be liability of Mother and/or her property or estate because of her position as landlord for the daughter. However, to have any chance to establish the liability of a landlord for a residential property in California, the people who were attacked would need to prove that Mom had actual knowledge of the dangerous propenisty of the dog - not just notice, not just "should have known", but the landlord must atually know that the dog's behavior is dangerous to people. Beyond that, the landlord's liability must relate to her ownership of her property and her allowing a dangerous condition to exist on her property. If the dogs ran away from the house and attacked someone nearby, there might be a dangerous condition of the property which is creating a risk of harm to a person in the area of that property. However, the liabiility does not exist just becasue the dogs live at the property - there must be a relationship to their presence on the property and the injury to the people who were attacked. So, if daughter took the dogs to the park where the dogs got loose and attacked the man and his child, then the presence of the dogs probably has nothing to do with the residential real property and the landlord would have no liability.

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Answered on 3/25/08, 12:02 am
Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Re: Suing for dog bite

I doubt it, but they could recover any unpaid portion of their judgment from her inheritence (if any) when the mother dies.

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Answered on 3/24/08, 3:20 pm

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