The gig economy is in full swing. And in California, people are contending with companies that are not committed to covering their damages if something happens to them. The latest gig trend is dog walking, with apps like Wag! and Rover letting people outsource their pets’ exercise.
So, what happens if you work for one of these companies and, while walking or sitting a dog, it bites you? Usually, if someone else’s dog bites you, you could pursue a personal injury claim. But the fact that you have a third party presents a unique challenge.
Learn the complications that come along with dog bites while on the job and how you could still be able to file a personal injury claim.
Wag! And Rover’s Policies on Dog Bites
Neither Wag! nor Rover covers sitter injuries while on the job. Because of the nature of the gig economy, workers who walk for these companies are technically contractors, not employees. That means dog walkers who work with the services assume the risks that come along with the job.
According to the “Rover Guarantee,” the company’s reimbursement program covers vet care and third-party injuries, but not injuries to any sitter, dog walker, or groomer. That means if a dog bites someone on the street, certain injuries of theirs are covered, but if a dog bites a walker, their injuries aren’t.
Wag! doesn’t even cover third-party injuries. The Wag! terms and conditions state that they aren’t responsible for any bodily injury. If you were bitten by a dog while it was in the care of a sitter, you could be able to recover damages, but that would most likely be from the sitter or the dog’s owner.
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Who Is Liable For a Walker’s Dog Bite?
The liable party in a dog walker bite case is usually the dog owner. California is a “strict liability” state, which means that even if the dog has never bitten anyone before, the owner is liable for the other party’s injuries, according to California Civil Code (CCC) § 3342.
However, for dog walkers, it can be harder to prove an owner’s negligence. California has what’s known as the “Veterinarian’s Rule,” which states that anybody who professionally works with animals assumes the risks associated with the job. The only way that the owner can be found negligent is if:
- The dog’s owner knew it was aggressive
- The owner failed to inform you of that fact
The Veterinarian’s Rule does apply to dog walkers, but because of the nature of services like Wag! and Rover, owners are less likely to inform contracted walkers of past aggression.
Can You Sue a Dog Walking App If You Were Bit?
The true answer is maybe. It could be argued that, because they don’t have a way for walkers to find out about any past aggression, companies like Wag! and Rover could be partially responsible for injuries.
Because of California’s law that professionals must be informed of past aggression and the fact that dog walking apps do hire walkers, it could be argued that they have a duty to protect their contractors. By not providing information on prior aggression, these companies could be liable.
If you were hurt by an aggressive dog, a dog bite lawyer in California could be able to help. We offer free consultations so that you can find out more about your case with no obligation.
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Is a Dog Walker Ever Liable for a Dog Bite?
It depends. Usually, the owner is still liable if a dog bites some third party while it’s under the care of a sitter. The same rules apply for hired dog walkers. If an owner is aware that a dog is aggressive but does nothing to restrain it or inform others, they are responsible for the attack.
However, there are some scenarios where a dog walker could be liable. If they failed to restrain an aggressive dog or did not take precautions left to them by the owner, they could be held responsible for the bite. In that case, the dog walker, not the company that contracted them, must pay the victim’s damages.
If you’re being sued for a dog bite that happened while you were on the job, a criminal defense attorney in California can help. By having a lawyer by your side, you could be able to avoid harsh penalties and strike a favorable deal.
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How Much Money Can You Sue for After a Dog Bite?
There’s no set number for how much you can sue for after a dog bite. Ultimately, a “fair” settlement would be one that covers all the damages that you suffered because of your bite. Those damages could include:
- Medical expenses
- Physical therapy or other ongoing treatment
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Every dog bite case is different, so your compensation will depend on the factors surrounding your situation. It’s impossible to say how much money you could sue for without knowing the specifics.
At your initial consultation with one of our dog bite attorneys in California, they can assess your case and tell you how much you could expect from your settlement. Our lawyers know dog bites and how to handle them, even if you were walking for an app at the time of your incident.
Talk to a California Dog Bite Attorney Today
Any dog bite is frightening and painful, but when your livelihood depends on dog walking, a bite can be especially devastating. You shouldn’t have to pay for your damages out of your own pocket.
The California dog bite lawyers at Simmrin Law Group want to help you if you’re a dog walker suing Wag! or Rover for a dog bite injury on the job. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.