Other Domestic Animal Bites

Dog aren't the only animals whose bite causes injury. Other domesticated animals can also have a potentially dangerous bite, and are therefore covered under many state and local statutes. These laws differ from dog bites laws, but the goal is the same to provide guidelines for the owner and protection for the victim. Domestic animal bite laws in most states only specify bites by farm animals and livestock such as horses, goats and sheep. However, these laws can also be extended to cover cats, reptiles, birds and small pets such as hamsters.

Not only can animal bites be traumatic and physically painful, but they can also put the victim at risk for bacterial infections. One such infection from bites that is becoming more common is the so-called superbug, a bacterial strain known as MRSA. It is resistant to antibiotics, and it is often contracted in hospitals. Other serious infections can occur from a bite, and though the wound may not look serious, bacteria can be planted deep into joint and tendon spaces. You should always consult with a medical professional after sustaining any kind of bite wound, in order to assess the potential harm.

Legally speaking, the general rule for domestic animals is the standard rule of negligence. If the owner knew of the animal's dangerous potential, then they could be held liable for a bite. There are exceptions. If the animal is provoked, or the victim's negligence contributed to the bite, the owner may not be found liable. Additionally, victims who approach domestic animals at their own risk also assume liability for the injury. For example, a person who tries to pet a goat that is known to bite would be considered to be approaching the animal at his own risk. However, if the person was not told about the goat's biting tendencies (and did not provoke the animal), the owner assumes liability. Some states do not have specific laws for domestic animal bites; the standard rule of negligence is used as a guideline in these states.

The provocation is the key to the standard rule of negligence. If the animal is irritated, agitated or otherwise provoked by the victim, the owner is not liable for any subsequent injury.

In domestic animal bites, the danger isn't considered inherent, as it is with wild animals. The animal can be considered safe unless the owner has some knowledge of the animal's potential to bite or attack. However, like wild animals, domestic animals can contract rabies. So if a domestic animal bites without provocation, it might be infected with rabies virus. The animal and the victim both should be tested for rabies.

After sustaining a bite from a domestic animal, no matter what the animal or the circumstances, you should get the name and address of the animal owner, as well as any animal license information, if applicable. Any witnesses should also help to provide you with their names, telephone numbers, and addresses. Take photos of all of your bruises, wounds, and bloody clothing, as well as getting the animal owner's insurance information if it's possible as well. You should not sign anything, discuss money, allow yourself to be tape recorded, or discuss who is responsible.

If you have been bitten by a domestic animal, you may have the grounds to bring a lawsuit against that animal's owner or handler. Consult with a personal injury attorney who specializes in animal attack and/or dog bite cases to find out if you may be able to recover damages for medical expenses, time lost from work, and even pain and suffering.


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