What is a person’s potential liability if they accidentally knock a person down while walking their dog?

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What is a person’s potential liability if they accidentally knock a person down while walking their dog?

My wife and her guide dog were out for a walk. They passed an elderly women. My wife’s guide dog misjudged the clearance and my wife lightly bumped the lady. It was a light brush of the shoulders but given the ladies age, that was all it took; she fell and hit her head and had to be taken to the hospital. Do we have any liability?

Asked on October 11, 2014 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

While it's impossible to answer your question definitively, from what you write, you most likely would not be liable. Liability for personal injury is based on fault; fault is based either  on an intentional bad act (which this wasn't), or on "negligence," which is "unreasonable carelessness"--and from what you write, your wife was not doing anything unreasonably careless. Without an intentional bad act or negligence, there should be no liability.


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