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
- 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.
- What to do in the Case of a Dog AttackWhile dog bites are fairly common, unprovoked dog attacks are not. However, as we recently saw in the viral video of a cat saving a human child from an attacking dog, they do occur. Therefore, it is important that you know what to do in case of a dog attack. These tips can help you rectify a situation with a potentially dangerous animal.
- Roller Coaster Wrongful Death at Higher Rates than Shark DeathsWhile most of us worry about swimming too far off the coast during a summer vacation, we don't realize that we're more at risk on a roller coaster than a shark when venturing outdoors this season.
- What Can I Do to Prevent or Stop Dog Attacks?Dog attacks can be extremely vicious, dangerous, and painful and if you are the owner of the dog, you may get sued - so preventing dog attacks is good for both parties all around.
- When a Family Member Witnesses a Dog Bite to a ChildWhen an immediate family member witnesses an attack, even if they were not the one injured, they may still have a claim for compensation.
- Is it Legal to Raise Wild Animals or Keep Them as Pets?Anyone who has grown up near a park, nature preserve, or in a rural setting probably came across a wild animal that he or she wished to adopt. Whether it was a baby duckling, a squirrel, a raccoon, or even a bear cub, there are laws affecting raising wild animals.
- Dog Bites: Losing Your Life in the Sunshine StateIf a pit bull or rottweiler has a bad moment, instead of being bitten, often someone is maimed or killed; that has now created off-the-chart actuarial risk.
- Who is Liable for Animal Bites by Wild Animals?In virtually every jurisdiction, the owner of an animal will be responsible if it injures someone, whether that animal is a pet, a service animal, or on display, such as at a zoo or exhibition. But, people get injured by wild animals, too. When a wild animal attacks someone, who is responsible for the injuries? The injured person? The property owner where the attack occurred? The government?
- When the Bite’s Worse Than the BarkAn estimated 2 million attacks occur each year with only 800,000 documented. While some breeds have the tendency for more aggression than others, animal attacks can happen anywhere, anytime. Sadly, many victims are under 10 years of age and dog bites alone make up for most child emergency room visits due to an animal attack.
- Biting Back After a Dog Bites YouIt is a common topic on the local news, and every year, thousands of Americans are bitten by animals. More often than not, these animals are dogs. Obviously, dog bites can lead to a number of expenses, including tests for rabies, medical treatment for injuries, etc. As a result, victims of dog bites often have claims for damages against the owners of the animals, the owners of property where the dog bite happened, and sometimes others.
- All Tort and Personal Injury Law Articles