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How do I get him to pay my medical bills?

BY: Mirror Lawyer

Dear Mirror Lawyer, On the invitation of a house owner, I went with one of my boys to repair a plumbing problem at a residential house at Legon in Accra in October 2021.

In the course of the repairs, a dangerous dog charged on my boy, bit him and tore his dress. I took him to the hospital immediately for treatment and also reported to the owner of the house who engaged my services.

I brought the medical report, prescription and medication receipt to the owner but all attempts to get her to pay the bills have proved futile. What are my rights if any?

Alfred Owusu, Nkawkaw.

Dear Alfred, Assault by dogs falls under the branch of law called negligence. Under that branch, there is negligence which is applicable to road users, professionals, offices, factories; shops, open areas and residential premises among others.

The type of negligence you described is known as occupier's liability. For you to succeed in any claim founded on negligence, you must be able to establish that the offender owes you a legal duty of care, that the duty was broken, and as a result of that breach, you have suffered damages.

Your work as a plumber hired to do repair works gave you and your boys an implied permission of the owners of the premises to enter the house and work.

At common law, the owner of premises or tenant occupying premises owes a duty of care to all lawful visitors who enter with the express or implied permission of the owner or occupier.

The duty concerns the state of the premises and the things done or permitted to be done on them.

The occupier's obligation is to take such care as in all the circumstances of the case it is reasonable to see that the visitor, be it temporary or not, will be safe when using the premises for the purpose for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier.

If there are specific dangers on the premises, it is the duty of the occupier to warn all such visitors in advance and take all legitimate steps to ensure their safety for the entire period the visitor is on the premises.

In this case the occupier was duty bound to place a warning in front of the house about the presence of dangerous dogs and also to ensure that the dogs were securely locked before allowing you and your boys into the house to work.

By failing to do that the occupier breached the duty of care owed to you, a hired plumber. The damage your boy suffered are the injuries, damaged attire and all bills you incurred for the treatment and replacement of the clothing.

The occupier is obliged by law to settle your bills as well as paying your boy reasonable compensation for the mental and physical agony he went through. Any other medical expenses present or future will be dependent on the report issued by the medical doctor.

I will, therefore, advise you to approach the owner who hired your services to settle your boy’s expenses. If she fails, your next remedy is to go to court. With the courts, the law provides that all cases involving negligence must be filed within three years from the date when the incident occurred.

The fact provided by you shows that the incident occurred in October 2021. Your claim before any court will become statute barred in two years after which any action you file will be met with a defence of the three year limitation time lapse. I will, therefore, advise you to see a lawyer immediately to start the legal processes before October 2024.