Question: What if my dog jumps on someone and causes a very serious injury? He is a large dog and likes to jump on people for fun. He is not mean; he just likes to play. Everything I read has to do with a dog biting someone or attacking. What if the injury is not from a bite? Can I still be liable?
Robert’s Answer: It all depends on the circumstances and whether the injury is foreseeable. If you have reason to believe that your dog may behave in such a way as to cause injury to someone, then you have a duty to take reasonable precautions. This is true if the injury results from the dog biting or attacking someone, or even if the dog jumps on someone in a playful manner.
For instance, you might be liable if your dog jumps on someone that is elderly or frail, causing an injury. Also, if the dog jumps on a small child, it might be foreseeable that the dog may cause serious injuries. On the contrary, if someone you know plays with the dog regularly and allows. or even encourages, it to jump on him, then you may not be liable. As I said before, negligence is determined by what is reasonably foreseeable after taking into account all the facts and circumstances of any particular situation.
Also, keep in mind that some cities may have leash laws, requiring that your dog be on a leash when it is off of your premises. Even if your dog has never hurt anyone before, you might be liable if it injures someone while it is not leashed. This would be true regardless of whether or not you knew of the dog’s previous habits or behavior.