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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Personal Injury Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  I provide basic personal injury advice to my clients in my own practice.
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I am writing regarding a possible dog bite case for

Customer Question

I am writing regarding a possible dog bite case for a 7YO American Bulldog. I am the owner in this instance, and am looking for legal advice from my end.
I was away on vacation and my fiancé's son was dog sitting. He ordered pizza for delivery on a Sunday, and when he opened the door to pay, the dog ran out past him outside to the driver. Later that same night, I returned from vacation. (Note: Nothing was said to me about any situation with the dog).
That Tuesday I received a visit from the county's Animal Control, demanding the dog be quarantined within 24 hours due to a dog bite. I was totally shocked and in tears. The dog is healthy, has all of his shots, and this was his first aggressive record of any kind. The dog is spoiled rotten and is obedient. I obviously had no idea of the incident and this was my 1st time hearing of it. I called the county for details and instructions, and then after called my fiancé's son. He told me he had NO idea the pizza driver was bit. He told me the driver didn't say anything to him - And if he was bit, wouldn't he have said something? Your dog bit me? I need your number? Something?
I went to the pizza place, and spoke to the manager, apologized, and left my information for the driver to call me. I felt awful, really bad for the guy. When he called me, I let him know I was very sorry for the trouble, that the dog is healthy and has all of his shot's. I told him that I would take care of his medical bills. He called me mid-week with an estimate of the bills, ($850 for ER; $500 DR's; $80 RX) and said he needed money for his RX now, and the hours he missed from work. No problem, I brought a check up to his work. I spoke to him again on Friday, and he said he would have all of his bills on Monday (Today), and I said no problem, to call me, and I would meet him at the hospital, and pay his bills for him with my credit card, right around $1300. He had a big problem with that. He wanted me to write him a check for the bills, and then he would pay the hospital. I told him that I didn't have the money to pay him the grand total (I'm just not comfortable writing a check like that for nothing I have proof for), so he said to send him payments and then he would in turn pay the hospital. I am not comfortable with this at all, especially because the picture he sent me on his phone of the bite doesn't look like my dogs bite/teeth.
What are my legal rights as the owner? If I'm paying his medical bills, do I get to see them? As a delivery driver, isn't this covered under worker's comp? If it's just the medical bills he wants, why is there such a problem with me going and paying them in person? (I currently rent the home I'm in, and I do not have renter's insurance, and really do not want the Homeowner's Insurance involved because then we will probably be evicted). In my gut, I feel like something is fishy here. Does the County even see the medical records?
I spoke to him again today (1 week and 1 day after the incident), and he was in such a rush to get a check for the RX & missed work last week, but hasn't cashed it yet because he wants money for the medical bills now. And also, a week later, and still hasn't even taken the RX the ER called in for him.
Is it possible that worker's comp is paying, but he is trying to get additional compensation? What are my legal rights as the owner? Is it worth it to get a lawyer? Or have him get one? I wanted to try and avoid a legal mess, I don't want one, but what am I entitled to?
Thank you.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Personal Injury Law
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns. The answer that I will provide you with is likely not going to be favorable, so I ask that you do not blame the messenger. I am also a dog owner so I understand first-hand what your concerns may be. This is not an issue about your rights but your responsibilities. Legally speaking your dog is your property. You are strictly liable for any damage that your property (your dog) causes to someone else. If he has medical bills, legitimate bills stemming from the bite, those are typically your responsibility. It is no excuse from a legal perspective that your dog never was aggressive before or that it took place when someone else was at home--you as owner are still liable. However you CAN demand his medical bills if you agree to cover them. This is not a worker's comp issue, and even if it were he would still have a private cause against you because you were the one who injured him. The issue with you paying his bills directly might be (and I am guessing here) an issue with HIPAA, since those are his private bills, the hospital cannot share them with you unless he consents. Perhaps you do have a basis to be concerned and it might be an issue where he is trying to create more charges, but that is just a speculation on my end. As for not cashing, that is frankly prudent on his end--if he cashes something too early, you can later claim that you paid him, and he is no longer entitled to anything else. So he might wait to collect all his expenses before he tallies you the bill. Sincerely, ***** *****