I am always searching for new cases describing the PA approach to liability in a dog bite case in which the biting dog lives in a rented property. There is always an issue when there is a severe bite yet the tenant who owns the dog has no renter's insurance to cover. The question often becomes “what did the landlord know, if anything, about the dangerous tendencies of the tenant's dog?” Here is a very current case addressing that issue straight from the Superior Court of PA:
Click on this link to read the case:
If you don't feel like reading the whole case, it basically holds that there were genuine material issues of fact about the vicious propensities or tendencies of the biting dog in relation to the dog owner, but there was no evidence from which one could reasonably believe that the landlord had ACTUAL knowledge of the dog's dangerous tendencies to impose a duty of care on the landlord. In other words, the landlord generally gets “off the hook” if he did not have actual knowledge the dog was vicious or dangerous.
What constitutes actual knowledge of this? For example, if the landlord knew the dog bit someone previously or even just jumped up aggressively on someone in the past, he would have actual knowledge. Proving what he knows is certainly not always easy! You need to consult with a lawyer if you are ever in this situation. We use private investigators to find some of this information if the injuries are severe.