Q: How am I liable for someone else's dog?
I lived with a man in a house. He rented the house and everything in the house was in his name. Nothing belonged to me. He had a dog that never acted mean but ended up biting the mailman one afternoon. I am being sued. In the paperwork it says I was an owner. Animal control took the report and said that my name was never listed on the report as an owner, that his name was. I wasn't on the lease. I did not have renter's insurance because I wasn't renting. I do not talk to the owner of the dog anymore. I was in the process of moving out when this happened. I don't understand why I am liable when this wasn't my dog!
A: You will likely not be found liable if it is not your house, and it was not your dog. That said, if you were named in the lawsuit, you will have to defend the case so the plaintiff does not obtain a default judgment against you. I would recommend consulting with an Illinois attorney individually to discuss your options moving forward.
A: You were sued in all liklihood because they didn't know who owned the dog. You need to file an answer to the complaint if you were served with papers. They have the burden of proof of showing you owned the dog, but if you get served with papers you still need to respond.
A: You should strongly consider hiring a lawyer to defend your claim. Under the Animal Control Act, "Owner" means any person having a right of property in an animal, or who keeps or harbors an animal, or who has it in his care, or acts as its custodian, or who knowingly permits a dog to remain on any premises occupied by him or her. (510 ILCS 5/2.16).
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