Landlord’s Liability for Tenants Dogs
Dog bite injuries are not uncommon around Washington. In some cases, individuals are able to recover compensation from the dog owner’s homeowners’ insurance carrier. However, what happens if you are bitten by a dog belonging to a person renting property? Can the landlord be held responsible for their tenant’s dog bite injuries? At Colburn Law, our Washington State dog bite attorneys want to discuss some of the nuances of these claims, and we are standing by to help you with your dog bite injury case today.
Responsibility Will Usually Fall to the Tenant
When a person rents from a landlord, there will usually be an understanding of whether or not pets are allowed. Sometimes, landlords allow dogs, but not certain breeds. This could be due to their personal preference or due to insurance carrier requirements. However, responsibility for a dog will almost always fall to the tenant renting from the landlord.
When we examine RCW 16.08.040, we see that the language of the law says that a dog’s owner shall be liable for any damages. Notice that the law does not say that a “landlord” shall be responsible. The “strict liability” dog bite law in Washington falls squarely on the owners of dogs or those who are in control of the dog when the bite occurs.
Did the Landlord Know About a Dangerous Dog?
There may be some exceptions to a landlord being held liable after a renter’s dog bites another individual. Some of these exceptions could include if the landlord:
- Knew that there was a dangerous dog on the property and failed to have the dog removed
- Kept or harbored the tenant’s dog, meaning that the landlord cared for had some control over the pet
Examining RCW 16.08.090, we see that there are special requirements for dogs that have been deemed “dangerous” by law enforcement officials or animal control. These dog laws require that the owner of a dangerous dog only permit the dog to be outside of a proper enclosure if they are nuzzled and restrained by a “substantial chain or leash and under physical restraint of a responsible person.” However, the law does not prohibit landlords from renting to individuals with dangerous dogs.
Additionally, there may be situations where homeowners’ associations are involved. Often, these associations control common areas and developments. It could be the case that a homeowners’ association or landlord could be responsible for a dog bite that occurs in these common areas, though it is more likely that the dog owner will still be held liable in these situations.
Call a Dog Bite Lawyer Today
If you or somebody you care about has been bitten and injured by a dog but are confused about who could be held liable for the incident, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney immediately. At Colburn Law, our skilled dog bite injury lawyers in Washington are ready to step in and help you with your case. Our goal is to investigate the incident and help you recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. We will thoroughly examine the situation in order to determine whether or not to pursue a claim against your renter or a landlord.