Every year, thousands of Americans are bitten by animals -- most often dogs. In many cases, a person bitten by an animal may have a legal right to recover damages from the animal's owner or another responsible party.
If An Animal Bites You
The first thing you should do if you are bitten by an animal is to seek medical attention immediately. If you are not treated, an animal bite can cause serious injury, infection, and even death if the animal was diseased. Once you have been medically evaluated, you should also consider consulting a lawyer with experience in animal bite cases. An attorney will be able to tell you whether you have a legal claim, and what damages you may be able to recover.
An attorney will ask you for detailed information about the circumstances surrounding your animal bite. At a minimum, you should provide the name and phone number of the animal's owner. If you don't have this information, a neighbor or a witness might be able to provide it to you. Also, if there were witnesses, you should get their names and contact information as well.
Owner Liability for Dog/Animal Bites
In deciding who is responsible for an animal bite, the first thing to determine is: who is the owner of the animal? Some states impose what is known as "strict liability" upon animal owners whose animals bite or attack others. Under the theory of strict liability, an owner is legally responsible ("liable") for an animal bite, regardless of whether the owner did anything wrong with respect to protecting others from attack. Under this theory, even if the owner had no reason to know that his or her animal was dangerous, if the animal bit someone, the owner would still be liable. In other states, the owner of an animal can be held liable for the injuries it inflicts, provided that the owner knew (or had reason to know) that the animal had "dangerous propensities." In other words, if an animal owner knows that his or her animal is dangerous and could cause injury to a person, the animal owner can be held liable for the animal's harmful actions.
Determining whether an owner knew of an animal's "dangerous propensities" can be difficult. The first question that often arises in making this determination is whether the owner needs to know of the particular animal's potential for harm, or whether the owner only needs to know that type of animal is potentially harmful. For example, when a person has a pit bull as a pet, does that mean the owner knows or should know the pet will be harmful, just because, in general, pit bulls can be harmful?
Animal bites usually happen to children when a dog or animal is left loose. If your child suffers an injury from a dog bite please call one of our experience dog bite attorneys today.
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