My son was bitten by a dog owned by our neighbor. I spent around P20,000 for my son’s vaccine and medication, but our neighbor did not help even by giving a single cent to us. How do I collect my expenses from our neighbor?
The provision of Article 2183 of the Civil Code is the law applicable in your situation. The said provision states that “the possessor of an animal or whoever may make use of the same is responsible for the damages which it may cause, although it may escape or be lost.
This responsibility shall only cease in case the damage should come from “force majeure or from the fault of the person who has suffered damages.”
Based from the foregoing, your neighbor shall be liable for the damages which your son has suffered when he was bitten by the former’s dog, which payment includes all expenses which you have incurred by reason thereof.
Pursuant to the said law, your neighbor can only escape this liability if he is able to prove that your son was bitten by his dog because of force majeure or because of his own fault.
Considering that you are neighbors with the owner of the dog to whom you are claiming for damages, you must first lodge your complaint with the barangay for conciliation/mediation (Sections 408 and 409, Local Government Code).
lf your neighbor still refuses to pay for reimbursement of your expenditures, you request for the issuance of certificate to file action.
Thereafter, you may proceed to the Municipal Trial Court, Metropolitan Trial Court or Municipal Circuit Trial Court in your city or municipality in order to file a case for collection of damages.
This case which you may file considering that the amount to be collected is P20,000 falls within the procedure governing small claim cases (A.M. No. 08-8-7-SC, Rule of Procedure for Small Claim Cases). A complaint form to initiate the filing of the case is readily available from the Clerk of Court of the said trial courts.
On the other hand, the continued refusal of your neighbor to pay for the medical expenses spent for your son constitutes violation of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 9482 otherwise known as “Anti-Rabies Act of 2007”, wherein it imposes penalty of fine amounting to P25,000 to pet owners who refuse to have their dog placed under observation and do not shoulder the medical expenses of the person bitten by their dog.
We hope that we have answered your query. Our legal opinion may vary when other facts are stated or elaborated.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org