Millions of people get bitten by animals every year. In majority of these cases, the animal involved is a dog. According to a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) study, there are over 4 million occurence of dog bites in the United States, 900,000 of those bites become infected. If you fall victim to an animal attack, you may have a legal right to get damages from the animal owner or the entity responsible for the animal.
The first thing you should do when you get bitten by an animal is get medical assistance. An animal bite can cause serious injury, infection, or even death if not treated immediately, especially if the animal that bit you has a disease. Once you have been treated for the animal bite and you plan to pursue legal action to recover damages, you will need to consult a lawyer with expertise in animal bite cases. A lawyer will be able to advise you if your case has any legal standing and what damages you may be able to recover from the animal owner.
You should provide your lawyer with all the necessary information regarding the incident. At the very least, you should provide the name and contact information of the animal owner. If you were not able to get this information direct from the animal owner, his or her neighbor or any witness to the incident may be able to provide this. You should also get the witness’s name and contact information as you may need it later on.
There are some states that impose “strict liability” when it comes to animal attacks/bites. Strict liability means that the animal owner is responsible for the behavior of his or her animal, and should therefore be liable for any damage that their animal has caused. If you live in a state where strict liability is enforced, then your claim to damages and compensation would be easier and more convenient.
In other states where strict liability is not obligatory, an animal owner is liable for injuries caused by their animal if they know about their pet’s “dangerous propensities”. Dangerous propensities refer to an animal’s predisposition to biting or attacking.
If you live on a state where strict liability is not enforced, your lawyer will need to prove that the animal owner knew about their pet’s dangerous propensities and did not take action to keep the animal away from people. You will not be entitled to damages from an animal bite if you were warned by the owner that the animal was dangerous and yet you still proceeded to pet or touch it. A jury may also decide that the animal owner is not liable if you climb over their property’s fence and got bitten by a guard dog, or if a sign that says “Beware of Dog” has been put up but you chose to ignore it. You will also lose your claim to damages if you provoked the animal into attacking you.
After determining if the owner of the animal is legally responsible for his or her pet’s actions, you have to determine the severity of the injury that the animal attack/bite has caused. Depending on the gravity of the injury you’ve sustained, you may be entitled to medical expenses, lost wages, pain & suffering, and/or property damage.
Punitive damages may also be awarded to you, provided that you can prove that the animal owner had been reckless or had the intention of causing harm through the animal that they own. For example, even though the owner knew that his or her pet dog is dangerous and has the tendency to attack strangers, he or she lets him roam the streets without a leash or supervision. While walking down the same street where the dog is left free to roam, you get attacked or bitten; a jury may award punitive damages.
To ensure that you get the compensation due to you in an animal attack, contact Hogan Injury.
None of the content on Hoganinjury.com is legal advice nor is it a replacement for advice from a certified lawyer. Please consult a legal professional for further information.