If a dog bites you, against whom can you bring a claim? The owner of the dog is an obvious choice, but many tenants do not have renter’s insurance.

Landlords can be held liable for dog bites/injuries under limited circumstances. By statute (R.C. 955.28), the “harborer” of a dog is liable. In the landlord-tenant context, a landlord is only liable if the dog injures someone in a “common area” controlled by the landlord. This means the dog must injure someone in a shared exterior area or a hallway. Frequently, dogs are allowed into yards or escape out the door and injure people. In these circumstances, the statute has often been applied. Typically, single-family homes do not have common areas. In contrast, duplexes do have common areas.

As an alternative to the statute, there is also common law liability if a landlord knows of the dangerous propensities or history of the dog and still allows the tenant to keep the dog. Approximately one-third of all homeowners’ claims involve dog bites/injuries. Call us if you or a loved one have been bitten or injured by a dog.