Attacks from pets are some of the most tragic legal cases for both parties involved. While dogs are generally incredibly loyal and well-meaning companions, there are over 4.5 million dog attacks each year. One in five of each of these bites are so severe that they result in injuries which require medical attention from a professional. Because of the very common risk of this occurring, it’s important to understand what a personal injury case involving an animal attack entails.
In the event that you’re involved in an animal attack, it’s crucial that you understand the logistics in determining liability. These laws vary on a state level. In many states, the owner of the animal who inflicted the injury is responsible for the injuries that occur, regardless of whether or not they had any reason to believe their pet was capable of committing violent acts against a human being. In states such as Pennsylvania, owners are subject to this “strict liability”, which means that they’re liable for the injuries their pets inflict even if their animal has never harmed a person before. However, in other states determining liability can be more difficult, especially if the dog in question has no prior violent history.
The majority of dog bites that occur are commonly the result of an owner being negligent with regards to the confinement of their pet. These are known as confinement laws. This entails that an owner must take the proper precautions to ensure that their pet is safely contained so that these tragic legal situations never occur. If the owner fails to keep their animal safely secured on their premises, or properly supervised and controlled while out in public, they have violated these laws and are thus liable for legal action following a violent incident involving their pet. Even if you are a responsible dog owner who sees this as common sense, it’s important to remind ourselves why it’s so crucial to take extra precautions in ensuring the safety of our pets and others.
Having established the different legal aspects that determine owner liability, we must also analyze other factors that come into play when dealing this type of personal injury case. As FindLaw.com points out, the injured party can be subject to “contributory negligence” if it can be proven that the owner did in fact take the proper measures to warn others of their dog’s violent tendencies and the victim willfully ignored these warning signs. There are other variables to consider as well. For instance, if it can be proven that the injured party intentionally provoked the animal, either by trespassing in an enclosure or antagonizing the pet, the owner may also be able to avoid liability if they can successfully prove their case in court.
If you do find yourself involved in this difficult legal situation, the associates of Huber & Palsir, LLC are at your disposal for a consultation. Specializing in personal injury law for over 28 years, this firm is committed to fighting fiercely for the best interest of their clients to ensure they are properly compensated for their injury.