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Animal/Dog Bite Liability

  • Posted on: Jun 26 2016
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When a person’s out-of-control pet causes an injury, it can be difficult to determine whether the victim has a legal claim against the pet’s owner. Whether the owner can be held liable for the animal’s behavior will depend on whether “strict liability” and “contributory negligence” apply.

Whether you can hold the owner liable for the animal’s behavior will depend on the “strict liability” and “contributory negligence” were in place.

What is Strict Liability?

Strict liability says that the owner is responsible for the animal’s behavior, regardless of circumstances around the injury. If your state recognizes strict liability in cases where an animal is the cause of an injury, it does not matter if the owner was actually negligent. They are still liable.

Other states may find an owner liable only if they knew of the animal’s “dangerous propensities” and was negligent in controlling the animal around other individuals.

What is Contributory Negligence?

If the individual who has been attacked put themselves in a harmful situation, then the owner of the animal can claim their pet was not out of control. For example, if an individual ignores a “Beware of Dog” sign that has been clearly posted, and the dog attacks, the owner may not be entirely to blame.

The owner and the animal may also not be to blame for an attack if the injured individual threatened or prompted the response in some way. Just as with humans, if the animal was acting in self-protection, they may not be liable.

When the Owner Isn’t Responsible

There are some cases where the owner is not responsible for the behavior of their animal. If the animal was in the care of another individual when the attack occurred, then the person in charge of the animal would be to blame. Owners under the age of eighteen are also not responsible for their animal’s behavior, in which case the parent of the minor is liable.

Landlords or property owners can also be responsible if the attack occurs on their property, but only if they knew that the animal was at their property and was dangerous.

If you’ve been injured by an animal or your animal has injured someone else, contact the personal injury attorneys at Held & Hines LLP. With offices in Brooklyn and Manhattan, Held & Hines LLP provides invaluable counsel to the New York City area. For more information, contact the Brooklyn law office at (718) 531-9700 or the Manhattan office at (212) 696-4LAW.

Posted in: Personal Injury

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