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Legal Responsibility Of Pet Owners

(Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

(Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - If you’re a pet owner, you need to know what your legal responsibility is to those who get bitten.

Former friend of Lindsay Lohan (yes, friend of Lindsay is apparently a form of celebrity) Sam Ronson had a bulldog who allegedly mauled her neighbor’s Maltese. The Maltese died and the owner sued. The case was just settled for a dollar value reportedly in the low five figures although the owner says it wasn’t about the money. Mmm hmm.

As the weather gets warmer, people taking their pets to the park want to know what the money might be if their pet does bite a person or another animal.

Most states have what’s called strict liability – if your dog or cat bites someone you are automatically legally responsible. Even if that pesky kid in the park who was taunting him deserved it. And even in the few states in which the pet owner isn’t automatically liable, the pet owner may still have to pay up if the pet has been known to bite in the past or if the dog was let off the leash.

Many homeowner policies cover liability for nonviolent breeds of dog, so check before you let your animal off the leash and into a lawsuit.

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