Lawsuit over dog sitter’s bite injuries restored by court

Firm News On Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Readers in Connecticut who follow dog bite cases may be interested to hear that injuries suffered by a woman who was attacked by a dog she was watching during her neighbors’ vacation can be the subject of a personal injury lawsuit. A court of appeals in another state recently ruled that the woman was not an “independent contractor” for legal purposes and therefore could continue seeking compensation from the dog’s owners.

The plaintiff in the dog bite case agreed to take in a golden retriever belonging to a neighbor couple while they spent a week on vacation for $300. The woman was familiar with the dog; she had seen it around the neighborhood and petted it often, and had no reason to suspect it was dangerous.

The dog was brought to the plaintiff’s home. At some point during the week, a napkin fell on the floor and the woman bent to pick it up. Suddenly, the dog attacked and bit her, causing serious enough injuries to require medical attention.

She later filed a personal injury lawsuit against the dog’s owners, but the trial judge dismissed the claim on the theory that the plaintiff, who worked part-time with a pet-sitting agency, was an “independent contractor” who had to show that the defendants knew the dog was vicious. But on appeal, the higher court ruled that the dog-sitting arrangement was informal because it was not through the service. Therefore, the plaintiff does not have to show knowledge on the defendants’ art.

Source: WCBS-TV, “N.J. Appellate Court: Woman Bitten By Dog Can Sue Owners,” Dec. 22, 2012

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