Does The Type Of Animal Bite Affect The Bite Case

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Dog bite laws are extensive and detailed, made to protect the public as much as possible and provide rights to victims when needed. But what about other domestic animals, like horses? Are bites and attacks from these covered under the dog bite laws? What about wild animals? With each group of animals, there are actually laws in certain states which protect the injured and, in some cases, the owner of the animal.

Domestic Animals
Most states have a standard rule of negligence that covers dog bites. This law also applies to all domestic animals. The owner has the responsibility to protect the public from his animal, if he knows that animal is potentially dangerous. However, there is also an additional provision that is not found in dog bite laws. If the injured party is aware that he is approaching the animal at his own risk, then the owner is not liable. Moreover, the owner isn't liable if the animal is provoked or the injured person's negligence contributed to the biting incident. Trespassing is another form of negligence on the injured person's behalf. Most injuries from horses are caused by kicks and not bites, although horse bites can occur. Most states do not have specific laws regarding injuries caused by horses, so such injuries are typically treated in the same manner as injuries caused by other domestic animals, under standard rules of negligence.

Dog bite laws provide a legal advantage to people who are injured by dogs. In states that do not have these laws, an injured person is left with the task of providing a burden of proof that the owner of the animal knew of its potential for danger. Determining and proving whether an owner was aware of an animals dangerous potential can be difficult. The question that is most asked is whether the owner knew of the potential for harm, or whether the owner only knew that the type of pet is potentially harmful. Most courts believe that a dog owner is responsible for both the general and possible potential for their own animals to cause harm. Even if an owner of a dangerous breed of dog had never seen their pet act violently, the owner may still be held liable because the tendency of that particular type of animal is known to be dangerous. Such knowledge is called constructive notice.

Wild Animals
Owners of an animal that is not, nor was ever intended to be domesticated, assume all of the risk. Strict liability laws cover any bite from such an animal. This type of strict liability is more rigid than with dog owners, because owning an animal known to be wild is proof in itself that the owner has knowledge of the animal's potential danger. The court says that the act of keeping an animal that is uncontrollable, not domesticated, and potentially vicious is considered inherently dangerous. The owner is automatically at fault in these cases, despite any precautions taken to prevent a bite, or the actions of the injured. Trespassing, provocation, and any other form of negligence by the injured all fail to negate the owner's liability in these situations.

Another danger with wild animals is rabies. If a wild animal, kept as a pet, contracts rabies and then bites someone else, it is hard for the owner to get around that. Not only has their animal attacked someone, but has potentially passed on rabies as well. In addition to the compensation they must pay to the victim, they may face legal penalties for keeping a wild animal as a pet. In some states, the penalties in such cases are much higher with wild animal owners than with dog owners.


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