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Attorneys Representing Dog Attack Victims Across Texas

This website is maintained by the Law Offices of Dean Malone, P.C., a Dallas, Texas law firm representing people across Texas for dog bite injury cases. We have attempted to provide useful information for those harmed by animal attacks.

Establishing Liability of Landlords in Dog Bite Injuries

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Assuming that a dog has shown a vicious propensity in the past, a dog owner is liable for bite injuries inflicted by his dog with a few exceptions. These include, but are not limited to, provocation of the dog and unlawful entry to the property. However, under certain circumstances the owner or landlord of a property may be held liable as well.

For a Dallas dog bite injury lawyer to succeed in claiming that the landlord is liable for an attack, generally he must establish that the landlord had knowledge of the dog, as well as its propensity for viciousness. Courts regard the presence of a dangerous dog on a landlord’s property much the same as any other hazard. In essence, the landlord owes a reasonable care of duty to those who enter the property lawfully. Liability occurs when this care is breached, and an actual injury results. As such, when a landlord knows that a tenant’s dog is vicious but allows it to remain on the property regardless, he risks being held liable for any injuries that are incurred. While the dog owner’s liability is established by his ownership, the landlord’s is established by his ownership of the property.

This is one of the main reasons landlords are often reluctant to allow tenants to keep dogs on the property. When a lease agreement expressly forbids a tenant from keeping a dog, generally this eliminates landlord liability in a dog attack, unless he is aware that the tenant is violating the lease. Moreover, if a tenant is renting month-to-month, and the landlord is aware that he is keeping a vicious dog on the property, he may be held liable for failing to give notice to either remove the dog or face eviction.

The major difficulty in establishing landlord liability lies in proving that the landlord knew of the dog’s presence and vicious nature. Courts have held that circumstantial evidence can be sufficient to prove this. However, this evidence cannot be based on supposition. Circumstantial evidence needs to show that the landlord must have known of the dog’s viciousness, not merely that he should have known.

To illustrate this point, some landlords never visit properties, and even live out of state. Holding a landlord liable because he should have visited the rented home or apartment, and thereby should have known of the presence of a vicious dog is not sufficient. On the other hand, if other tenants have complained to him, this can be sufficient to establish liability through circumstantial evidence.

Dog bite attacks can leave victims with devastating injuries, including massive scarring.

– Guest Contributor

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