Definition of Animal Bite Law
Animal bite law covers a specific type of personal injury, or tort law, involving animals injuring humans. Most animal bites and attacks involve dogs. Still, there are numerous types of animals and animal-ownership situations. Animal bite cases, therefore, can involve more than dogs. They could involve horses, snakes, and even all kinds of zoo animals.
Animal bite and attack cases often focus on whether the owner knew or should have known that the animal is dangerous to humans. Certain breeds are presumed dangerous in some states. Animal bite cases can also involve the owner's duty to prevent the animal from escaping.
Common Matters in Animal Injury Cases
States' laws vary regarding animal bites. Generally, laws favor assigning liability to animal owners when a victim is injured in an attack. There are exceptions to this rule such as when the injured party did something to instigate the incident.
Owners are responsible to restrain, house, and properly monitor their animals. If they know their animal has dangerous propensities or other reason to be a danger to the public, the law asks they act accordingly to protect people.
Below are some foundational legal terms related to dog bite and other animal injury cases:
- Strict Liability - Liability for an injury caused by an extremely dangerous object, action, or animal, regardless of fault or negligence
- Dangerous Propensities - An animal's known tendencies to cause harm or injury
- Negligence - Failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would under the same circumstances
Where You Live Impacts Dog Bite Case
Animal injury cases, especially dog bites, can be complex. Different states might impose different forms of liability on owners of specific dogs. For instance, some states may make owners of pit bulls liable for any injury they cause, regardless of whether the owner took proper care to prevent an attack.
Other states may only make an owner liable if he or she knows that the particular dog in question has been aggressive in the past. Some city and county ordinances also impose different forms of liability. In addition to passing ordinances regulating dog ownership, some cities and counties conduct special hearings following a dog bite. If a dog is declared vicious, the city or county usually imposes special rules and restrictions on the owner or may require the owner to remove the dog from the neighborhood.
Get Legal Guidance After an Animal Injures You
Because laws can differ from state to state and city to city, dog bite victims should consult an attorney. A personal injury lawyer experienced in dog bite cases can help outline the best course of action in terms of legal possibilities.
Should an animal owner be found liable for a victim's injuries, they could be required to pay the victim for their losses as a result of the lawsuit. These financial payouts generally come in two forms:
- Pain and Suffering - Mental or physical distress or harm for which one may seek damages in a tort lawsuit
- Compensatory Damages - Money damages awarded to an individual to compensate for injuries, property damage, or any other loss
An uncontrolled animal can cause significant physical harm and long-term emotional trauma. Anyone can be a victim of an animal attack — children included. Animal ownership is a major responsibility. When someone fails to live up to that responsibility, it is a danger to the public. Find a lawyer to help if you are a victim of that a dog bite injury.
Related Practice Areas