Ohio is a strict liability state when it comes to dog bite cases. Since there is no “one-bite rule” that can relatively excuse an owner from liability if their dog attacks someone else, a dog bite victim is generally free to file a personal injury claim against that owner. But what happens in cases when the dog was known to be dangerous but was permitted to stay on the property by the landlord regardless? When can a landlord be held responsible for the harm caused by a tenant’s dog? In general, the answer is “not that often at all.” A landlord is liable for a tenant’s dog as much as a landlord is directly liable for a tenant’s actions. That is to say, they are not in most situations. Most landlords try to keep tenants away from potentially dangerous dogs by enforcing leash rules around the complex, or banning certain breeds from the property altogether. Beyond this steps, a landlord typically does not need to do anything else to shield themselves from liability in the event one tenant’s dog bites another tenant.
Is a Landlord Ever Partially Responsible?
There are two unique situations that can come up that could place some liability for a dog bite in a complex on the landlord. The first would be if the landlord was actually looking after the dog at the time of the attack, like he or she was carrying out a personal favor for the dog owner. To some extent, this makes the landlord the “owner” or “controller” of the dog in that timeframe. The other situation would be if the landlord both knew the dog was aggressive and possessed the legal ability to have the dog removed from the property but did nothing to exercise it. For example: A landlord allows a tenant to rent an apartment after that tenant admits that her dog has bitten someone in the past. The dog in question repeatedly growls and makes advances at another tenant in the building, who then complains to the landlord. The landlord reviews his tenancy rules and sees that an aggressive, uncontrolled animal is reason for an eviction but decides not to act on it. The dog bites a tenant a month later. In this particular chain of events, the landlord could be partially liable for doing nothing to protect the tenants, not even raising a warning around the property. Do you need help filing a claim after being bitten by a dangerous dog? Williams DeClark Tuschman Co., L.P.A. can help you! Call 419.318.0772 to schedule a free case evaluation with our Toledo personal injury attorneys today.