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Does the Type of Animal That Bit Me Affect My Injury Claim?

Your legal rights might vary depending on the type of animal that bit you.


Most states have enacted laws that are collectively referred to as "dog bite laws." Dog bite laws impose what is known as "strict liability" on dog owners for injuries caused by their dogs. Strict liability means that the dog owner is responsible for injuries caused by his or her dog, regardless of whether the owner was actually at fault.

Dog bite statutes provide a significant legal advantage to people injured by dogs. In states that do not have such laws, an injured person has the burden of proving that the dog owner knew (or should have known) that his/her dog was vicious and could injure someone. Under strict liability dog bite law, however, the plaintiff only needs to show that the dog bit him/her.

However, an injured person could be barred or limited from recovering his or her full damages (even under a dog bite law), if the dog owner shows that the injured person provoked the dog, or was trespassing. Generally, in states with dog bite laws, a person injured by a dog will have an easier time proving his or her legal case than a person bitten by another type of animal.

To find out whether your state has a specific dog bite statute, you should contact our office for assistance today.

Horses and Domestic Animals

Most injuries from horses are caused by kicks, as opposed to bites, which are the most common cause of injury from dogs. Most states do not have specific laws regarding injuries caused by horses. As a result, injuries caused by horses typically are treated as are injuries caused by other domestic animals, under standard rules of negligence. Thus, the owner of a horse will usually be held liable for injuries caused by the horse if the owner knew or had reason to know of the horse's dangerous tendencies. Also, consistent with other animal cases, a horse owner may not liable for injuries if the owner can prove the injured person "assumed the risk," was "contributorily negligent," or provoked the horse.

Wild Animals

People who own or keep wild animals are often subject to strict liability in the same way that dog owners are responsible for dog bites under dog bite laws. The reason for this is that the act of keeping an animal that, by its nature, is potentially uncontrollable and vicious is considered inherently dangerous. Thus, even if the owner of a wild animal goes to extreme measures to protect people from his animal (such as building high fences), if the animal injures someone, the owner of the animal can be held liable regardless of the effort he or she took to protect the public.


The type of animal that injures you can affect your legal rights. To find out if your state has specific "dog bite laws" or other animal specific laws, contact our office today.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a dog bite or other animal related injury, please contact Carabin Shaw today. We offer free initial consultations and work on a contingent fee basis, which means that there is never a fee unless we successfully resolve your case.

For immediate assistance, call us toll-free at 800-862-1260.

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