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Substantial Settlement Obtained From a Landlord for a Pit Bull Dog Attack on a Visitor

In what is believed to be a first in Virginia, Frank Buck, Personal Injury Attorney in Charlottesville obtained a substantial financial settlement from a landlord for the personal injuries of his client due to an attack by an apartment tenant’s Pit Bull Terrier.

Lori, the client, was visiting an apartment complex to walk a friend’s old dog. The dog and she were attacked by a pit bull owned by the defendant, a tenant. Lori’s first attorney filed suit against the individual tenant and then withdrew after discovering that the tenant’s renter’s insurance policy excluded dog attacks from liability coverage. Lori consulted with Attorney Frank Buck, of Buck, Toscano and Tereskerz, who looked at the duties owed by the management company for the apartment complex. Despite the company’s own policy prohibiting tenants from keeping pit bulls, the tenant was able to move in after disclosing on a Pet Addendum that he had an “American Terrier”; the name is a contraction of American Staffordshire Terriers, which are commonly known as pit bulls. Reasonable inquiry would have disclosed that the tenant’s dog was a pit bull. Lori sued the management company and landlord alleging that they were negligent in permitting a tenant with a pit bull to move in and stay in the apartment complex, and that a dog attack on other tenants and their guests, including Lori, was a foreseeable risk.

The defendants asserted that there was no evidence that pit bulls are vicious or aggressive. Buck retained the services of an expert in canine behavior, who stated that pit bulls were bred and trained for generations to control cattle. The expert was prepared to testify that such dogs are aggressive and have limited trainability and sociability; pit bulls can be friendly, loving, and gentle around their owners, family, and friends, but if they feel threatened or that their owners or home territory is threatened, some react aggressively. Lori unknowingly walked toward the pit bull, which reacted by first attacking the dog she was walking and then her. She was knocked down, causing a displaced fracture of her left wrist, requiring surgical fixation of the bones with plates and screws. Although the fracture healed successfully, within a couple of weeks Lori developed reflex sympathy dystrophy (RSD) in her arm, which causes severe pain.   Rest and therapy, including injections in her neck, reduced the symptoms so that she was able to return to work eight months following the pit bull attack. Lori’s medical bills totaled $80,000.00 and she had $50,000.00 in lost wages.

After negotiations stalled, the parties agreed to Mediation. After a full day of Mediation, Frank Buck obtained for Lori a substantial financial settlement from the apartment complex landlord.

If you need a personal injury attorney in Charlottesville, Virginia contact Frank Buck.


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