Even if they take all reasonable precautions to prevent injury, wild animal owners are frequently accountable for injuries the animal causes. The law inherently assumes that wild animals are harmful, unlike domesticated animals like dogs, cats, and horses. Owners may be held strictly liable for any injuries they may cause.
Because such animals do not have owners who can be sued, individuals hurt by such animals are likely to have no legal recourse. The only possible exception is if a local animal shelter’s incompetence results in a circumstance where a stray bites someone.
What Are the Criteria for Animal Attack Liability?
An animal’s owner may be held accountable for any injuries their pet caused when it attacked someone else. The laws of the state where the animal attack happened, the kind of animal that carried out the attack, and the facts of a particular case will all play a role in determining the standard of responsibility for an animal attack.
For instance, the owner of a dog or cat, or another domesticated animal, may only be held accountable under a standard of carelessness.
Again, each state will have its own laws governing domestic animal liability. For instance, in some areas, a dog owner could be charged with assault in criminal court and sued in civil court for negligence. This can occur when a dog owner fails to leash their dog while knowing that it is dangerous and the dog attacks someone.
Some states have even adopted statutes meant to impose liability on owners of domesticated animals who are negligent in informing other persons about their pet’s potentially dangerous features. This is particularly true concerning state rules governing culpability for dog bites or attacks. These laws may also provide for animal attack liability exclusions or arguments.
When a person is the owner of a wild or illegal animal, that individual may also be liable for animal attacks. For instance, if a person has a wild tiger and resides in a state where keeping tigers as pets is prohibited, they may be held strictly liable if their tiger harms or attacks someone else, such as a neighbor.
Whether the other party provoked the animal attack or not, or how severe their injuries were due to the attack, if a person is held to a strict responsibility standard, they will be immediately liable for the damages.
What Exactly Is a Wild Animal?
As was already established, a person’s state of residence will largely determine the precise description of an exotic or wild animal. Though not typically maintained as a house pet, an exotic animal is typically a species that can be found in the wild.
This could include crocodiles, jaguars, penguins, several species of bats, and some deadly snakes. Once more, only a small number of states (say, one or two) might permit some of the creatures on this list.
The owner will typically be held strictly accountable for any damage caused by assaults by exotic animals.
How Can an Exotic Animal Owner Be Held Liable for Damages?
Whether or not the exotic animal’s owner was careless in maintaining the animal, they will still be held responsible for any harm. Because strict liability law states that the owner’s duty is deemed absolute, it follows that no matter how diligent the owner is to keep the exotic animal fenced in or locked up, they can still be held liable.
Owners of exotic animals may be subject to strict liability since wild animals are frequently hazardous, unpredictable, and challenging to tame. Because keeping such an unusual animal poses a known risk of injury, the law prohibits any mistakes in this regard (i.e., the exotic animal will attack other persons).
The injured party must first show that the exotic animal was under the owner’s control or that the owner introduced the animal to the environment to hold the exotic animal’s owner accountable for its injuries. The injured party will next need to prove that it was impossible to own the exotic animal in question without running a significant risk.
They will also need to demonstrate that the damage was substantial and that such animals are not permitted in the neighborhood. However, the degree of liability in these cases will depend on whether the harm was caused by the type of risk that renders a certain exotic animal harmful.
For instance, an owner will only be strictly accountable in jurisdictions that allow elephant ownership if the elephant injures another person by charging or impaling them with its tusks. They might not be strictly accountable if the animal merely goes over to a neighbor’s garden and eats their vegetables. This is due to the misconception that eating in a garden is the kind of intrinsically risky behavior one would associate with exotic creatures.
What Perils Can I Run if I Keep a Wild Animal?
You risk seriously hurting yourself or others if you keep an animal that isn’t domesticated. Animals that have never been domesticated exhibit unpredictable behavior, especially those born or nurtured in the wild. You may be held legally responsible for keeping undomesticated animals as pets and face criminal or civil fines or penalties.
Is a Pet Owner Responsible for Damage and Injuries Done by Their Pets?
Yes. Pets are the owner’s personal property. This implies that their owners may be held personally accountable for any harm they do to people or property. Dog bites are frequently connected with animal injuries, but any harm or destruction to property caused by your pet, whether a dog, cat, snake, rabbit, bird, etc., can subject you to liability.
In most states, a dog owner’s liability is defined by statute.
How Can Animal Owners Defend Against Liability?
You may do a few things to shield yourself from liability as a pet owner.
If you live in a state where you are held legally responsible for your dog’s assaults, excluding exceptional circumstances, you should first consider getting homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Check your policy to find out if your policy covers dog bites on your property. Certain dog breeds, such as pit bulls, seen as more dangerous and aggressive, are not covered by all insurance companies.
And knowledge truly is power. Look up the dog ownership laws in your state, county, and city. As previously indicated, several states have “strict responsibility” statutes. By virtue of being the dog’s owner, these laws hold you legally accountable for any injury your dog causes.
Veterinarians: Can You Sue Pet Owners for Injuries?
Normally, if a pet bites during a visit to the vet, the veterinarian cannot be sued by the pet owner. In their line of work, veterinarians take risks while treating any animal.
Additionally, a veterinarian’s profession occasionally involves prodding an animal, which frequently results in the animal having an uncontrollable reaction. Finally, some courts have ruled that once veterinarians have custody of a dog, they temporarily assume ownership. This eliminates the responsibility of the actual owner while the animal is in the vet’s care.
A few things are an exception. Even if the pet’s behavior is especially bad and the owner fails to alert the veterinarian, they may still be held responsible. Additionally, if a veterinarian fails to adequately safeguard her staff members from unneeded hazards posed by the animal, the staff members may file a lawsuit against the veterinarian.
Should I Seek Legal Advice Regarding an Animal Attack Issue?
Animal attacks can have very serious repercussions for both the animal’s owners and the victims who are hurt. In either situation, the proper legal standards can be ascertained with the aid of an accomplished animal attack lawyer.