Are Business Owners Liable for Dog Bites on Their Property?

Allowing employees to bring pets to work has increased in popularity over the last decade. Proponents of pets at the workplace contend that pets at the office lower stress levels, increase happiness and foster a more comfortable work environment.  However, business owners should consider the risks associated with allowing pets at work or on the premises.

If an employee’s dog bites a customer, the employer will likely be liable for the customer’s damages. The company is vicariously liable for its employee’s conduct if the employee was acting within the course and scope of employment.  Thus, any negligent conduct of the employee is attributed to the employer. Furthermore, the business has a duty to provide a safe environment for customers.  If the business knows that a dog is dangerous on the premises, the business will be liable for any injuries the dog causes.  A prudent business should keep employees’ pets separated from customers and visitors to the property.

Pet Friendly Businesses

 

Some businesses are known for allowing customers to bring dogs to their stores.  In addition to major brand pet stores, some clothing stores, home improvement stores, book stores and other stores allows pets as well. These include stores such as Home Depot, Lowes, Tractor Supply Co., The Apple Store, Nordstrom, Old Navy and Half Price Books to name a few.  Many of these stores require owners to keep their dogs on a leash.  Other stores require the dog to remain in a cart. 

The stores that allow customers to bring dogs into their stores increase their exposure to claims for personal injuries.  A business owes a duty to protect its customers from known dangers.  Some dog owners are irresponsible and will bring dogs into stores that are not properly socialized and unsafe around strangers.

If an employee notices that a dog owner is not following the store’s policies regarding pets or that the dog exhibits signs of aggression and does not ask the customer to leave, the employee exposes the employer to liability.  If a dog bites a customer after the store was aware of its aggressive behavior, the store will bear responsibility for the customer’s injuries. For example, an employee of a popular home improvement store in Harris County observed a dog exhibiting aggressive behavior.  A short time later, the dog bit an innocent customer who passed by the dog.  The bite victim had a legitimate claim against the store.

Apartment Complexes

 

A landlord is responsible for a tenant’s dog that injures a person if the landlord has actual knowledge that the dog is dangerous prior to the attack.  A landlord may also be liable for a dog attack if its negligence contributed to the dog attack.  For example, if a landlord fails to properly maintain a fence and a dog escapes as a result and injures someone, the landlord would be liable for the victim’s damages. 

Dog bite victims often suffer from injuries that require medical treatment.  In addition to medical bills, a victim might have lost income as a result of missing work to recover.  A jury may compensate a victim for pain and suffering, disfigurement caused by scarring, impairment and mental anguish.  Many clients represented by the O’Hara Law Firm have reported PTSD symptoms such as nightmares and anxiety around animals after being attacked. 

If you have been injured by a dog, contact the O’Hara Law Firm for a free consultation.  Patrick O’Hara is an aggressive dog bite attorney that handles dog attack claims in Houston, Baytown, Humble, Spring, Cypress, Jersey Village, Bellaire and other surrounding areas.  Patrick O’Hara has successfully obtained compensation for many victims of dog attacks. The O’Hara Law Firm represents clients on a contingency fee basis. Call us at 832-956-1138.  

Posted in Dog Bites

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