Landlord Liability for Tenant's Dog


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Each day about 1,000 U.S. citizens visit the emergency room for treatment related to a dog bite injury.1 For pit bulls or other dangerous breeds, one in six bites requires medical attention. In the last ten years, dangerous dogs have killed over 200 Americans and have accounted for roughly two-thirds of total recorded animal related injuries.2 Indeed, a 2012 study concluded that more than 27,000 people underwent facial reconstructive surgery in that year alone as a result of being bitten by dogs.1 A victim may recover damages from the owner's homeowner or renter's insurance policy if the breed is covered. However, many insurance policies exclude coverage of aggressive breeds such as rottweilers and pit bulls.

Some states like Pennsylvania impose strict liability for all damages caused by the attack of a dog where the injuries are severe or the dog previously engaged in dangerous behavior. Pennsylvania also imposes strict liability for medical bills even without bad behavior on the part of the dog or its owner.

But the laws in the State of New York are a bit different. In New York, the courts have long recognized a cause of action that imposes liability on the owner for injuries inflicted by his dog if the victim can establish that the dog is vicious and that the owner knew or should have known about such vicious propensities. Vicious propensities include the propensity to do any act that might endanger the safety of the persons and property of others in a given situation.

In certain circumstances a landlord can be held civilly liable. To hold a landlord liable for a bite injury caused by a tenant's dog, the victim must prove that at the time of the landlord had actual knowledge of (1) the presence of the dog and (2) the dog's vicious propensity to bite humans. With aggressive and thorough investigation our firm has recovered substantial settlements from landlords' insurers, as recently as last month.

If you or someone you know have questions or concerns about injuries suffered as a result of a dog bite or other animal attack, contact the team of personal injury attorneys at Levene Gouldin & Thompson, LLP.


1 "2014 Dog Bite Fatality Statistics",, contains verifiable information about U.S. citizens killed by dogs including the name and age of each victim, location of attack, dog breed and up to 18 other factors. Information was gathered through news reports that were available at the time of the attack or found through Internet archival services. Each fatality also lists "source citations," which links to its related citations.

2 "2014 Dog Bite Fatality Statistics",,

3 "2012 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report",, [PDF].