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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
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Experience:  JA Mentor
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I was involved in a "dog bite" incident recently with a pizza

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I was involved in a "dog bite" incident recently with a pizza delivery driver. My sister in laws dog that I was watching while she was out of town ran out at the delivery man and he got scared, jumped in the back of a friends truck that had an engine block in the back. The delivery man busted his knee on a bolt coming out of the block. He went to the ER and claimed it was a dog bite. Animal control came to our house days later and quarantined the dog to our house (cute little cattle dog / basset puppy) Yesterday I received a letter in the mail from the delivery man's lawyer requesting our homeowners or renters insurance for the "Dog Bite" I called and asked why workers comp isn't handling the medical bills and he responded by saying that the Dominoes Delivery driver is not an employee, but instead an Independent Contractor. Also the delivery driver does not have medical insurance. We saved the bolt he injured himself on and a chunk of skin that was stuck to it, and we documented the scene with pictures as well. Help me please! I am scared that I will be sued for 10s of thousands of dollars for his uninsured medical visits

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

What California law says is that the owner of a dog is liable for any bite that occurs in public or in a private place that a person is lawfully entitled to be. Cal. Civ. Code, Section 3342. First, you are not the dog's owners, and therefore are not liable. Second, if the injury was not caused by a bite, you would not be liable.

Insurance is not relevant to liability. That unfortunately means that, if you were liable, it wouldn't make a difference whether he had medical insurance or worker's compensation insurance. If you have homeowner's or renter's insurance, you can call them, explain what happened, and give them the lawyer's information. They should be able to handle it for you - and if you wind up getting sued, they will defend you. If you do not have insurance, you have the option of writing back to the lawyer to explain why you're not liable or hiring a local attorney to send the letter for you.

If the delivery driver does sue you, he has to show why he should be required to pay. You would be able to argue that (1) it's not your dog, (2) the dog did not bite him, (3) you had no way of knowing that there was an engine block in the back of the truck, (4) there is no way you could have known or foreseen that he would jump into the back of the truck, and (5) therefore, you're not liable for any damages.

You would also have the ability to implead your sister-in-law, as the dog's owner, and bring her into the case if you got sued. I understand why you may not want to do that, but it is an alternative to paying money for medical bills that were due to someone becoming afraid of her dog.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
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