Animal Bite Law
Guide to Dog Bite and Animal Attack Law
Animal Bite Laws are created at the state level, through statutes and common law, so they vary across the U.S. These laws help to determine if a pet owner is liable when his/her animal bites someone. When a person is injured by an animal bite, the bite victim may sue the animal’s owner or another responsible party for damages, under Personal Injury Tort Laws.
Other parties that can also be held liable for damages caused by an animal bite include: animal keepers, who are responsible for the care and custody of an animal, such as a kennel, pound or animal sitter; property owners, when they have allowed the animal on their property; landlords, if they knew that their tenant owned a dangerous animal; and parents of minors who owned the animal or behaved negligently with an animal which led to injury.
Most states impose strict liability laws with regard to animal owners. This means that an animal owner is legally responsible for his/her animal biting, regardless of whether the owner showed actual negligence or fault. In these states, if the animal injures a person, the owner will be liable for any damages the person suffers as a result of the dog bite, even if the animal had never shown vicious tendencies before, or the owner had no knowledge of these tendencies.
The only defense the animal owner may have in these cases is intentional provocation of the animal by the victim, which means inciting, encouraging, or provoking the animal to bite. Additionally, law enforcement agencies that use dogs in the apprehension of criminal suspects may be exempt from liability.
In other states, the owner’s liability is dependent upon his/her knowledge of the animal’s dangerous or vicious propensities. If the victim can show that the owner had knowledge that the animal was dangerous and could injure someone, the owner may be liable for damages when his/her animal causes injury to someone. However, if the animal owner adequately warned others of the dangerousness of the animal and took the proper measures to keep the animal from others, there may be no liability, due to contributory negligence. This means the victim contributed to his own injury by failing to exercise reasonable care and knowingly taking the risk of being injured by the animal.
The damages that can be recovered in a successful animal bite claim include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damages. Although it is sometimes possible to recover punitive damages, but to do so it must be shown that the responsible party was not merely negligent, but was actually reckless or intentionally incited the injury.
Know Your Rights!
Articles on HG.org Related to Animal Bite Law
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- Laws for Large Breed Dogs in New JerseyOn May 11, 2015 the Responsible Dog Ownership Act was introduced in New Jersey by Democrat assembly members.
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- My Dog Just Bit Someone, What Do I Do?Most people see their pets in a light similar to their own children. So, when a dog misbehaves it may be easy for an owner to overlook the bad behavior and forgive the errant puppy. But, what if the dog bites someone? Are there legal ramifications? What should an owner do?
- California Dog Bites – What You Need to Know to Keep Yourself, Your Family, and Your Dog SafeDogs play many roles in our society. They sniff out drugs and bombs, guide the blind, and protect our properties. Most dogs, though, have only one job: to be a loyal, loving companion. It can be easy to forget that dogs still share many physical characteristics with wolves, the apex predators from which they have descended, and have the capacity to seriously injure or even kill a human being.
- Common Defenses Against a Dog Bite Lawsuit in West VirginiaUnder West Virginia’s dog bite laws, a dog owner is liable for the bite if the animal was loose at the time of the incident. These strict liability laws mean the dog bite victim doesn't need to prove the dog owner was aware of any previous incidences of biting or even knew the dog would bite a person. But the law does allow dog owners to mount some common defenses against a dog bite lawsuit.
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