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Animal bites: Beyond the dog

8/29/2014

While dog bites may make the news most often in Massachusetts, they are not the only kind of injury that a person can suffer in an animal attack. If you are injured while interacting with another person’s cat, horse, other livestock animal or a wild animal being kept in captivity, it may still be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit.

In most cases, injuries suffered from another animal are handled the same way when it comes to holding a party liable as dog bites. In general, the victim must show that the animal’s owner was negligent. This most often means that the owner knew that the animal was dangerous or could be dangerous under the circumstances and did not warn or protect the public. For example, if a horse owner knows that a particular horse is known for biting and kicking but lets people be close to the horse without disclosing this knowledge, the owner may be able to be held liable.

In cases of wild or exotic animals being held in captivity, the laws are much more in favor of the victim. Wild animals cannot ever be truly domesticated, and that means that the situation can turn volatile quickly. Even if the injury-causing behavior was part of play and not a vicious act, the owner can still be held liable. Liability usually also applies even if the owner has taken all reasonable safety precaution because owning a wild animal is in and of itself considered risky.

It is important to remember that an owner may not be determined liable if he or she can prove in court that the animal was provoked. Because of this, it is important for victims to discuss the particulars of their cases with an attorney before filing a lawsuit seeking damages.

Source: FindLaw, “Does the Type of Animal Affect a Bite Injury Case?” Aug. 25, 2014

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