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Can a Landlord Be Held Liable For Injuries Caused by a Tenant’s Dog?

dog teeth up close

Pennsylvania’s dog bite law imposes liability on dog owners for attacks perpetrated by their pets. The law is meant to ensure that dog owners take reasonable care in preventing their pets from injuring other people. Are there circumstances under which other parties may be held liable for an animal attack? If you were bitten by a tenant’s dog in their apartment, or in the hallway or other common area of an apartment building, can you hold the landlord liable? Is it a building owner’s responsibility to keep residents and guests safe from vicious animals?

Read on for a discussion of whether and how a landlord may be liable for injuries caused by a tenant’s dog. If you were injured by someone else’s dog in Philadelphia, call a dedicated Chestnut Hill personal injury lawyer for advice and representation.

Pennsylvania’s Dog Bite Law

Pennsylvania law generally holds dog owners responsible for injuries caused by their pets. When a dog bites or attacks someone, the owner is automatically responsible for paying for the victim’s medical costs. Unlike similar strict liability dog bite laws in other states, Pennsylvania’s dog bite law does not automatically require the owner to pay for additional damages, such as lost wages or pain and suffering.

Under most circumstances, the dog’s owner is the primary target for liability. Under limited circumstances, however, other parties may be held liable after an animal attack.

Landlords Can be Liable for Tenant Dog Bites in Limited Circumstances

Courts around the country have been extremely reluctant to hold landlords liable when a person is bitten by one of their tenant’s dogs. Unlike dog owners, who can usually be held liable per strict liability dog bite laws, landlords are generally shielded from liability. However, if the plaintiff can demonstrate that the landlord was somehow directly responsible for the animal attack, then they can hold the landlord liable.

In Pennsylvania, courts have been willing to hold landlords liable under certain circumstances. A landlord may be held liable after a tenant’s dog bites someone in the following situations:

  1. The landlord knew that their tenant kept a dangerous dog on the property, and the landlord failed to take steps to have the dog removed.
  2. The landlord had direct possession, care, or control over the dog when the dog bite occurred.
  3. The landlord knowingly allowed a dog onto the property that had been previously deemed “dangerous.”

Whether a landlord in Pennsylvania is liable for a tenant’s dog bite thus turns on several factors. The landlord must have known that there was a dog on the property, known that the dog was dangerous, and had the legal authority to remove the dog from the property. A landlord cannot be held liable if they have no control over the situation, nor can they be held liable just because they knew the dog was present; they must have had reason to believe the dog was actually dangerous (prior attacks, police reports, complaints from guests or residents, etc.).

Obtaining compensation from a landlord after an animal attack requires clearing a much higher burden than recovering from the animal’s owner. A seasoned dog bite and animal attack attorney can help you evaluate your options after your dog bite injury in Philadelphia.

Seasoned Legal Help After a Vicious Dog Attack in Philadelphia

If you or someone you love has been hurt by a dangerous animal in Pennsylvania, you need the help of a dedicated and effective personal injury attorney to get the damages you deserve. Benedum Law founding attorney Christine Benedum has dedicated her career to fighting for injured victims and knows how to get her clients the compensation they deserve from those at fault. Contact a passionate Philadelphia dog bite victim attorney at Benedum Law in Chestnut Hill for a free consultation on your case at 215-529-7848 (215-LAWSUIT).

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