Q: Am I liable or my boyfriend for a dog bite while at dog boarding?
I book my dog and my boyfriends dogs through an online portal for dog boarding in Florida. I sign the yearly terms and conditions as an anuthorized representative of a legal owner as it is through my online portal account as we live together and use it as one household. Within the document it states owner responsible for any damage to person or property. My dog and his dog have gone multiple times without incident. His dog has a notice to go slow as he is nervous. His dog bit a worker and the worker went to the hospital to get checked out. He is the legal owner, I have the pet registration as well as adoption papers showing he is. Am I liable for any potential lawsuit or is my boyfriend? Can I prove in a lawsuit that I am not the responsible party or by me booking his dog through my account, does that make me automatically liable?
A: Your boyfriend as dog owner is likely liable, and regarding yourself, that may depend on what "authorized representative" means as mutually understood by the parties - but regardless of who, if anyone, potentially has liability, the bite victim can and probably will file a lawsuit against both of you and see how it shakes out (if the matter is not amicably resolved). If you are sued, you have a potential cross-claim for indemnification against your boyfriend. Another issue here is whether you have homeowners insurance with liability coverage. If you have insurance, it may exclude coverage for this, particularly since the bite occurred off-premises, but it should be checked. If you have coverage, you get a free attorney provided by the insurance company.
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