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What Is Animal Bite Law?

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, but they could be any animal, from snakes to escaped zoo animals.

Animal bites are often considered separately from other personal injuries. These 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.

Terms to Know

  • Tort - A personal or economic injury for which victims can recover damages
  • 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
  • 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

For more legal definitions, visit the FindLaw Legal Dictionary.

Other Considerations When Hiring an Animal Bite Attorney

Animal injury cases, especially dog bites, can be complex. Different states may 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. City and county ordinances may also impose different forms of liability. Because laws can differ from state to state and city to city, dog bite victims should consult an attorney to determine whether the owner is liable for the injuries they have suffered.

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. Both dog owners and dog bite victims often have the right to hire an attorney for these proceedings.

If you are the victim of a dog bite or other animal attack, contact an animal bite lawyer immediately to explore your legal options.

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