In any case of an injury caused by an animal, an experienced Personal Injury attorney is best suited to examine the details in order determine the merits of filing a lawsuit to obtain damages for the injuries sustained. There may be a specific state statute that governs the liability of the owner or keeper of a dog who causes injury to another. The laws in each state may vary significantly and a Personal Injury attorney experienced in animal injury cases will best be able to evaluate each factual situation and determine what is legally necessary to successfully pursue a animal.
A. Animal Injury Cases
In addition to dogs causing injury to individuals, other animals including bulls, horses or other livestock may also be involved in causing injury. Injuries from animals may range from puncture wounds due to a bite, fractures and even death. Victims of an animal attack may sustain significant psychological damage due to an increased fear of animals and/or an avoidance of situations similar to that suffered in an animal attack. State laws governing liability for animal injuries are unique to each state and need to be evaluated by a Personal Injury attorney who can provide competent legal advice to assist you in pursuing any viable claim.
B. Burden of Proof
A party injured by an animal has the burden of proving who is the owner or keeper of the animal and that they are legally responsible for the damages caused by the animal. An owner may be negligent for letting a dog run at large. An owner of a dog may also be responsible if the dog causes injury even if the dog did not make physical contact with the injured party. For instance, the owner of an unrestrained dog who runs out at a motorcyclist and causes the motorcyclist to lose control and crash may be responsible even if the motorcyclist did not make physical contact with the dog. An owner of livestock may be responsible for injuries caused by the livestock if the injured party can prove that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care to keep the livestock contained on the owner's property.
State statutes may also hold the owner of certain types of livestock responsible if the owner failed to have a legally required and adequate fence. A competent Personal Injury attorney will be able to assist in determining the owner's liability, as each case is dependant on various factors.
C. Determining Fault
There are several items that are needed in order to prove legal responsibility for Personal Injury cases involving animals. A state statute may hold the owner or keeper of a dog strictly liable if the dog injures or causes injury to a person, even though the owner or keeper of the dog exercised reasonable care. The purpose of these laws is to recognize that dogs can cause injuries and that the owner or keeper of a dog should be responsible for the injuries caused by their dogs. Other animal injury cases generally require that the injured party establish that the owner failed to exercise reasonable care in adequately containing their animals. This may include evidence that a fence was not built to minimum standards to contain an animal or that the owner of the animals failed to adequately maintain a fence. The injured party also needs to establish the nature and extent of their physical and psychological injuries and the amount of damages they sustained due to their injury.