When an Animal Other than a Dog Injures in California
Dog bites are the most common injuries from animals. Like many other states, California has a dog bite statute holding the dog's owner strictly liable to pay for bite injuries under certain conditions.
Under the dog bite statute, the victim need only be lawfully on public or private land, and the dog not be doing military or police work.
The statute's remedy is financial, a recovery often made from homeowner's insurance or other liability insurance.
If you or someone you know suffers a dog bite injury from another's dog, then retain a personal injury lawyer to pursue your lawful recovery. Dog bite injuries can be very serious injuries.
Dog bites, though, are not the only serious injury that another's animal may cause, such as:
- cats scratch,
- horses buck, bite, kick, and strike,
- bulls charge,
- goats butt, stomp, and bite,
- parrots, cockatoos, and other pet birds peck and bite.
Owners also keep wild animals like alligators, tigers, bears, and snakes, the dangerous propensities of which we well know.
What happens when one of those other animals causes a serious injury? Who, if anyone, pays?
To give readers a better understanding of injuries caused by animals other than a dog, our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers are providing a detailed review below.
Common-Law of Animal Strict Liability
The liability law governing other animal injuries is more complex than a straightforward dog bite statute.
California's dog bite statute, like other state statutes, makes the dog's owner pay “regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness.”
This statutory first-bite rule alters the traditional common law of animal liability.
Before statutory reform, the dog bite victim had to prove that the owner knew of the dog's abnormally vicious propensities.
The old knowledge-of-viciousness rule, in essence, gave a dog one free bite. The dog's owner only paid subsequent bite victims.
Because dog bite statutes address only dog-caused injuries, injuries that domesticated animals other than dogs cause remain under the old knowledge-of-viciousness rule.
Injury Caused by Domestic Animal – CACI 462
California's Civil Jury Instruction 462, reflecting current California law, instructs that those:
- “who own, keep, or control animals with unusually dangerous natures or tendencies can be held responsible for the harm that their animals cause….”
This strict liability applies “no matter how carefully they guard or restrain their animals.”
The claimant, though, must prove that the animal “had an unusually dangerous nature or tendency” of which the owner “knew or should have known….”
The common-law rule for the liability of an owner of a wild animal is more straightforward than the prior-viciousness rule for domesticated animals.
Injury Caused by Wild Animal – CACI 461
The owner of a wild animal pays for the wild animal injuring another, whether the wild animal had any vicious propensities or the owner knew or should have known of the viciousness.
Under California Civil Jury Instruction 461, those:
- “who own, keep, or control wild animals are responsible for the harm that these animals cause to others, no matter how carefully they guard or restrain their animals.”
The 1998 California appellate Rosenbloom case acknowledged that the wild animal rule has imposed strict liability on “keepers of lions and tigers, bears, elephants, wolves, [and] monkeys.”
How Can I Prove the Animal Injury Claim?
Dog bite and wild animal injury claims are thus less difficult to prove, with the right approach establishing ownership to reach available liability insurance.
While the prior viciousness and knowledge-of-viciousness requirements make the common law rule for domestic animal injuries harder to prove than dog bite and wild animal claims, skilled counsel can still establish a recoverable claim.
Our personal injury lawyers know how to investigate and acquire evidence of a domestic animal's prior viciousness and the owner's knowledge of that viciousness, as when:
- the operator of a horse riding stable offers a mount that the stable's grooms know tends to bite, buck, kick, or strike, or run away with its rider;
- the owner of a pet store leaves uncaged, to attract shoppers, a macaw, parrot, or other large bird that has viciously bitten at the eye, lip, nose, or ear of the store's clerks and caretakers;
- the operator of a petting farm permits children to approach and milk a cow that handlers know will kick on the mishandling of its udder; or
- the handler of trail mules on a canyon trip knows that one of the mules brushes riders off on trees and canyon walls.
Personal Injury Attorneys for Proving Liability for Animal Injury
Our top-rated Los Angeles personal injury Attorneys can help you win your claim involving injury or property damage due to animals.
You need not advance a fee. We work on contingency. We will evaluate, prepare, and present your claim without any payment until you make a financial recovery when they receive a recovery percentage. No recovery, no fee.
Retain a personal injury lawyer at our law firm as cases against animal owners for serious injury are nothing new to us.
Retain lawyers whom you can trust to present your claim properly so that you recover full value.
Injury Justice Law Firm are top-ranked personal injury attorneys serving people throughout Southern California, including Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
Our office is located at 1999 Avenue of the Stars, 11th Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90067.
Our main office is in LA County next to the Van Nuys Superior Court at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401.
Contact our office for a free case evaluation at (818) 781-1570.